Climate anxiety: What predicts it and how is it related to climate action?

Lorraine Whitmarsh, Lois Player, Angelica Jiongco, Melissa James, Marc O. Williams, Elizabeth Marks, Patrick Kennedy-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


As scientific evidence of the severity of climate change increases, there are indications that this represents a significant psychological burden in the form of climate anxiety on the public. So far very little research has explored the prevalence, predictors, or effects of climate anxiety amongst the public. This study aims to address this gap by exploring climate anxiety in the UK. It addresses the following questions: (a) How prevalent is climate anxiety amongst adults in the UK? (b) What are the predictors of climate anxiety? and (c) Does climate anxiety predict climate action? We report on findings from an online survey of the UK public (N = 1338) undertaken in late 2020 (partially replicated in May 2022 with a sub-sample of 891 respondents) which found that while there are high levels of concern about climate change, there are low levels of climate anxiety (measured using the Climate Change Anxiety Scale). Climate anxiety was higher amongst younger age groups, those with higher climate concern, higher generalised anxiety, lower mindfulness, higher nature relatedness, and more climate change information seeking behaviour. In addition, climate anxiety predicted some (but not all) types of pro-environmental action. Consistent with other recent research, these findings indicate that climate anxiety may not necessarily be a negative impact of, or maladaptive response to, climate change; but rather, at least to some degree, be a motivating force for effective action.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101866
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Early online date28 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022


  • CCAS
  • Climate anxiety
  • Generalised anxiety
  • Pro-environmental behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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