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News and Media
Time for better engagement of older people on climate change issues, new report argues.
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Many believe that older people are uninterested and even incapable of engagement with climate change issues. However, a new SEI report, Older People and Climate Change: The Case for Better Engagement, prepared in partnership with the Community Service Volunteers’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP), urges the scrapping of such stereotypes.
Instead, the research team recommends new approaches to engage older people, promoting direct interaction and using trusted agents who are sensitive to the personal circumstances they may face. The report sets out a ten-point plan to engage older people more effectively on climate change issues and greener living.
Baby boomers with high footprint
Engaging older adults is important, the report argues, because the combination of climate change and an aging population could have wide-ranging socioeconomic and environmental impacts.
"Baby boomers" (aged 50-64) currently have the highest carbon footprint in the UK compared with other age groups, and they are the first generation of the consumer society to enter old age. While today’s elderly have relatively low-carbon-footprint habits and values, this new wave of older people is accustomed to relatively high consumption.
At the same time, the report shows, older people may be physically, financially and emotionally less able to cope with the effects of climate-related weather events.
"The engagement and participation of older people in climate change issues are important as older people can be seen as potential contributors to, and casualties of, climate change as well as potential campaigners to tackle the problem," says lead author Dr Gary Haq.
"Recent evidence from the older age sector highlight the inadequacies of current methods of information provision and community engagement on climate change," he adds. "It is critical to implementing policies to tackle climate change and to address the needs of an aging population."
A missing voice
Dave Brown, co-author and member of RSVP, says that while older people are concerned about climate change, they do not feel they will be directly affected, nor that they can personally take action to stop it.
"The older generation represent a missing voice and a missed opportunity," Brown says.
Download the report here