Generational divide over climate action a myth, study finds

climate action

One of the challenges of switching to a green job in midlife is the common connection between green jobs and the young, which in turn is connected with the belief that young people are more concerned about the environment. Of course, it is very important that young people are trained for green jobs and care about the environment, but it sets up something of a false division between the generations. A new study suggests that attitudes toward the environment are actually quite similar across the generations. Here’s the description:

Older people are just as likely as younger people to recognise the need for action on climate change and to say they’re willing to make big sacrifices to protect the environment, suggesting claims of a generational divide over the future of the planet may be exaggerated, according to a new UK study marking the publication of the book Generations by Professor Bobby Duffy.

The research, by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and New Scientist magazine, finds that around seven in 10 people from all generations surveyed say climate change, biodiversity loss and other environmental issues are big enough problems that they justify significant changes to people’s lifestyles, with no real difference in agreement between Baby Boomers (74%) – the oldest generation polled – and Gen Z (71%), the youngest.

Similarly, there are almost identical levels of agreement across the generations that people themselves are willing to make big changes to their own lifestyle to reduce the impact of climate change: there is virtually no difference between the proportion of Baby Boomers (68%), Gen X (66%), Millennials (65%) and Gen Z (70%) who say they’re prepared to make such a sacrifice.

Where there is some generational difference in views is on whether environmental concerns should take precedence over economic growth: 66% of Gen Z and 57% of Millennials agree environmental concerns should take priority over the economy, compared with 44% of Baby Boomers and 45% of Gen X.

But despite this, older generations are still more likely to agree than disagree that the environment should come first – for example, 24% of Baby Boomers think we shouldn’t prioritise climate change over the economic growth, far lower than the 44% who think we should. Read the full article at the Kings College London News Centre.

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