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It’s already too late to save the planet, say a third of Gen-Z

October 18, 2021

Our brand new Eco Index report analyses the views of 2000 UK adults on climate change and sustainability, ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit taking place in Glasgow in November.

The research reveals that a third of Generation Z (32% of those aged 18-24) and Millennials (34% of those aged 25-40) think that ‘for a lot of environmental problems, it’s already too late to make a difference’. This drops to 19% when looking at Generation X (aged 41-54) and 17% amongst Baby Boomers (aged 55+).

Even worse, one in six of Generation Z (16%) and 18% of Millennials think there is no point in doing anything about climate change more broadly, as it’s already too late to save the planet. By comparison, only 8% of Generation X and 4% of Baby Boomers agree. Across all age groups, men (14%) are twice as likely as women (7%) to see climate change as a lost cause. A similar number of younger UK adults – 15% of Generation Z and 17% of Millennials – also think that they don’t need to do anything on climate change themselves because other people are working on it.

Again, only 7% of Generation X and 3% of Baby Boomers agree with that viewpoint. In fact, those two age groups are the most likely to agree with the statement that ‘I should do something about climate change because we can all make a difference’.

The report also found that more than one in five UK adults (22%) believe businesses use environmentally friendly credentials to promote their image without taking real action, while more than half (52%) believe the world will fail to meet the goal of limiting global warming to below two degrees Celsius set by the Paris Agreement.

In addition, nearly half (47%) think it’s unlikely that the UK will hit its target of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Nick Baker, Chief Research Officer at Savanta, comments: “Although most UK adults agree that climate change must be faced head-on with changes to our lifestyles and habits, especially among Generation Z and Millennials, a significant minority seem to have given up. What’s particularly discouraging is the number of younger people who feel their personal actions can make a difference has dropped 10 percent year-on-year.

There is some positive news from the report: 71% of UK adults think they have become more environmentally friendly over the past five years. Almost two-thirds (64%) agree that the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 should prioritise a ‘green recovery’ that focuses on investment in clean energy, transport and buildings.

Nick Baker adds: “Many have spoken about the recovery from COVID-19 being a golden opportunity to invest in sustainability. Businesses and brands that show they are able to assist in that aim will be increasingly successful as we emerge from the rigours of lockdown.”

Savanta also surveyed 2000 adults across the US and a further 2000 across Canada, curating a report which looks at where over 6000 people stand on a range of environmental issues and what action they want to see. Key questions posed in our survey include: to what extent do we expect a green, government-led Covid-19 recovery – or are other issues more prominent? Do we all need to play our part? What role should be taken by the brands we buy from?

In addition to analysing the data by country, the report also cuts the data by generation and gender, revealing how views differ demographically on such a widely debated topic.

Click here to download the UK version of our Eco Index 2021 report.

By Nick Baker, chief research officer, Savanta

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