3 Out of 4 Americans Feel They Have “Moral Obligation” to Address Climate Change for Children

October 25, 2022

A new Siena College Research Institute survey revealed shared concern for children and environment, despite our differences


Media Contact
Laura Blank

WASHINGTON D.C., October 25, 2022 – A majority of Americans (74%) feel they have a “moral obligation” to make the world a better place by addressing climate change not only for their own children and grandchildren but for all children to come. The findings from the Siena College Research Institute‘s survey are part of “Think of the Children,” a new report released today by the Aspen Institute’s This Is Planet Ed and Capita.

Surprisingly, nearly half of the respondents least concerned about climate change (46%) agree with the moral obligation to address climate change when thinking about children. The compelling findings show that while American adults are anxious about how a shifting climate will affect their children’s future, they are also eager for ways to work together to create a flourishing world for the next generation.

“Children are already feeling the effects of climate change today. Heat, air pollution, and extreme weather harm child development, disrupt schools, and impact mental health. Black, Latino, and other communities of color feel these effects the most,” said John B. King, Jr., Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration and Co-Chair of This is Planet Ed. “And yet, we are encouraged that most Americans, across different perspectives, are concerned and motivated to act.”

Despite nearly 8 out of 10 Americans agreeing that climate change is a “very” or “somewhat serious” problem, only about half of parents with children (49%) said they have talked with their children about it, and yet, three in 10 respondents with children said their children have told them they worry about climate change [See this helpful infographic, “6 Ways to Talk to Children About Climate Change”]. Parents are concerned about climate change and its effects on the future, but few families are talking about it together. [For additional resources for parents and caregivers to take action in your local school district, check out this Parent Advocacy Toolkit from This Is Planet Ed, in partnership with the National PTA and Mothers Out Front].

“This report shows that we have a collective concern for our children and the world they’re growing up in,” said Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Bush Administration and Co-Chair of This is Planet Ed. “That concern gives us a chance to roll up our sleeves and do something about it – together. We can build a healthier, brighter environment where children and youth will thrive.”

Capita and This is Planet Ed commissioned the survey on the state of public opinion and climate change in the United States, particularly as it affects children and future generations. The survey, completed in August 2022, sought to better understand whether keeping children in mind can strengthen support for both systemic and policy change and influence personal choices that support a sustainable future.

This survey underscores the work of the Early Years Climate Action Task Force, recently launched by Capita and This is Planet Ed to develop the first ever U.S. Action plan with recommendations on how the country can support young children, ages 0 to 8, to flourish despite facing the impacts of climate change. The Task Force will identify best practices for government, child-serving systems, businesses, not-for-profits, and philanthropy to mitigate, adapt, and respond to climate change as it relates to young children. It will also develop policy frameworks for implementation at all levels of government.

“This report and its survey findings are part of a larger effort through our collective work with the Early Years Climate Action Task Force,” said Joe Waters, CEO of Capita. “Using this research and hearing from participants in our listening sessions from  across the country and abroad, the Task Force will work to draft the first-ever Early Years Climate Action Plan for the United States, exploring how our nation can better support young children to flourish, despite the challenging issues we’re facing with climate change.”

Want to know more? Catch up on the task force’s first listening session and sign up to our mailing list.


Editor’s Note: Please find the “Think of the Children” report and digital media kit here.

About Capita

Capita is an independent, nonpartisan think tank with a global focus. Its purpose is to build a future in which all children and families flourish. Capita explores how the great cultural and social transformations of our day affect our youngest children (0-8 years old).

Join the conversation on Twitter (@capita_social) or visit our website, capita.org.

About This is Planet Ed

This Is Planet Ed is an initiative of the Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program that intends to unlock the power of education as a force for climate action, climate solutions, and environmental justice to empower the rising generation to lead a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future. This Is Planet Ed will work across Early Years, K-12, Higher Education, and Children’s Media to build our societal capacity to advance climate solutions.

Visit www.thisisplaneted.org/.

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