Climate change protest
Traditionally, climate deniers focused on disputing the existence of climate breakdown or downplaying human involvement in it. Centre on Constitutional Change

One-third of teenagers in the UK believe that climate change is being "exaggerated". This revelation comes amid a surge in YouTube videos promoting a new form of climate denial specifically targeting young audiences.

Traditionally, climate deniers focused on disputing the existence of climate breakdown or downplaying human involvement in it.

However, the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has identified a shift in the narrative, revealing that the majority of climate denial content on YouTube now challenges the effectiveness of climate solutions.

This content questions the reliability of climate science and the climate movement or portrays the consequences of global heating as advantageous or inconsequential.

Researchers from the CCDH compiled a data set of text transcripts from 12,058 climate-related YouTube videos posted by 96 channels over nearly six years, spanning from January 1, 2018, to September 30, 2023.

Additionally, the report incorporated findings from a nationally representative survey conducted by polling company Survation.

The survey revealed that 31 per cent of UK respondents aged 13 to 17 agreed with the statement "Climate change and its effects are being purposefully overexaggerated."

Notably, this figure increased to 37 per cent among teenagers classified as heavy users of social media, defined as individuals reporting usage exceeding four hours per day on any single platform.

Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the CCDH, said: "Scientists have won the battle to inform the public about climate change and its causes, which is why those opposed to climate action have cynically switched focus to undermining confidence in solutions and in science itself."

This concerning trend raises questions about the impact of online content, especially on platforms like YouTube, in shaping the opinions of young individuals regarding climate change.

The CCDH's findings highlight the urgency of addressing misinformation and promoting accurate climate education tailored to the needs and concerns of the younger generation.

Issues ranging from distrust in mainstream media to a lack of clarity in the information provided were prevalent among the respondents.

Some expressed confusion over the contrasting reports and varying opinions on the issue, leading them to question the credibility of climate change warnings.

The report highlighted that many teenagers rely on social platforms for information, where misinformation and conflicting narratives can easily circulate.

Experts argue that there is a pressing need for improved media literacy and critical thinking skills to help teenagers navigate the complex landscape of climate change information on social media.

The report underscores the need for a comprehensive strategy to counteract the proliferation of climate denial content on social media.

It calls for enhanced media literacy programs and critical thinking skills to help young people navigate the complexities of climate information online.

Government officials are urged to take note of these findings and consider a thorough review of existing environmental education curricula.

Environmentalists and educators are now advocating for a renewed focus on climate education in schools, with bespoke programs designed to address the specific concerns and questions raised by teenagers.

The aim is to empower the younger generation with accurate information, enabling them to make informed decisions about their role in addressing climate change.

In response to the report, environmental organisations are gearing up to launch targeted awareness campaigns, using various mediums including social media, to counter misinformation and promote a more accurate understanding of climate change.

By collaborating with influencers and opinion leaders, these campaigns aim to reach the teenage demographic more effectively.

While the report highlights a concerning trend, it also presents an opportunity for positive change.

The next generation will be better equipped to contribute to the global effort to combat climate change if the root causes of climate scepticism are addressed.

The findings serve as a wake-up call for educators, policymakers, and parents to work together in shaping a future generation that is well-informed and actively engaged in environmental stewardship.