Young People and Global Climate Change: Emotions, Coping, and Engagement in Everyday Life

  • Maria OjalaEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 8)


This chapter focuses on research about how young people, mainly those from Northern Europe, relate to global climate change. Although in a sense this threat is spatially and temporally remote from the young people’s everyday lives, they come in contact with climate change through media and school and also relate concrete experiences to the threat. In this chapter climate change is seen as an existential, moral, and political problem. The aim is to investigate what emotions young people experience, how they cope, and how coping strategies are related to environmental efficacy, environmental engagement, and subjective wellbeing. Worry seems to be the most common emotion. Young people actively cope by using: (1) Problem-focused coping, i.e., thinking about, planning, and trying to do something to fight climate change; (2) Emotion-focused coping, for instance getting rid of negative emotions with distancing strategies; (3) Meaning-focused coping and hope, i.e., being able to switch perspective and see both negative and positive trends, and putting trust in more powerful societal actors. Meaning-focused coping seems to be an especially constructive strategy, since it is positively associated with environmental efficacy and engagement, as well as wellbeing. The chapter ends by arguing that it is important to let young people give voice to their climate-related emotions and that it is vital to realize that coping not only takes place at an individual level but is also a social process in which the adult world plays an important role.


Late childhood Adolescence Young adulthood Global climate change Worry Climate skepticism Hope Problem-focused coping Meaning-focused coping Proenvironmental behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.JPSÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden

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