In 2021, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef), while introducing the Children’s Climate Index, called climate crisis a child rights crisis. According to the United Nations (UN), around one billion children are at extremely high risk of being affected by the climate crisis. In this context, it's becoming increasingly important for parents to make climate solutions a priority. A new survey now shows that they might be on track.
For its 22nd Sustainable Impact Report, released earlier this week, technology company HP surveyed over 5,000 people globally, including 1,000 from India. The findings reveal a shift in the mindset of Indian parents regarding the climate crisis, with many considering it while making decisions on purchasing behaviour, career choices, and long-term family planning. The data show that 98% of Indian parents express concern about the climate crisis, and 85% consider themselves environmentally friendly.
As Indian parents are prioritising sustainability and actively engaging in eco-friendly practices, they also feel responsible for ensuring a company's sustainability efforts (90%) and prefer purchasing sustainably sourced items (85%).
Understanding the importance of climate solutions, many people are adding it to their checklist before saying yes to a new job. The report shows that 61% of Indian parents consider companies' environmental practices as an important factor when considering a job. This also indicates that more people are recognising the importance of aligning their professional lives with climate action.
“We are witnessing a remarkable transformation in the mindset of Indian parents when it comes to climate change,” said Gurpreet Singh Brar, vice-president, HP India market, in a press statement. “The fact that parents express such deep concern is a powerful testament to the growing awareness and urgency surrounding this global issue,” he added.
According to the UN, not only does the climate crisis act as a ‘threat multiplier’ for violence against children, but it also harms their mental health, causing ‘eco-anxiety’, which refers to the distress caused by climate change. In a 2021 survey led by researchers from the University of Bath in the UK, of the 10,000 respondents aged 16 and 25 years from 10 countries, including India, 75% said that the “future is frightening.” Moreover, 50% of respondents said they felt “sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty” about climate change, according to Medical News Today.
In a 2020 joint survey by non-profits Save the Children, and PwC, 58% of Indians from the states of Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal said that their children had faced health issues such as dehydration, skin diseases and allergies due to rising temperatures, as reported by ReliefWeb. In many districts, more than 50% said that children could not play outside due to the heat.
Commenting on the impact of the climate crisis on children, Sudarshan Suchi, CEO of Save the Children in India, said in a press statement: “The climate and environmental crisis is an intergenerational child rights crisis that threatens children’s survival, learning and protection around the world today and tomorrow, with the most marginalised and deprived children at greatest risk.”
As the climate crisis threatens children’s futures, parents are feeling the responsibility of implementing climate solutions in various aspects of their lives. The HP survey shows that 66% of mothers and over half of fathers (58%) in India have reconsidered the company they work for or changed companies because of their commitment to sustainability initiatives.
In the 2020 study, the researchers called for the implementation of child-focused strategies to support future generations and strengthen childcare and welfare schemes. It also highlights the importance of building awareness and resilience. When parents, often the first educators of children, take responsibility for making sustainable choices, it makes a climate-focused approach to life a go-to among children.