Some people say that age is just a number. Others associate age with wisdom. Or maybe it’s a state of mind. Whatever the case, age is a factor in climate progress, and 2021’s renewed climate momentum should mobilize an often overlooked elderly demographic.
To date, the global climate movement has involved youth collectively. Pre-Covid, the world saw a slew of student-led climate protests, which led to widespread public debate and increased youth representation in the country. major international forum.
While these milestones represent significant progress, 2020 tied For the hottest year on record, and the “emission gap” to avoid catastrophic climate change continues to widen. A prompt response from the whole society is needed.
Elderly people are relatively invisible in climate discussion compared to the younger demographic, yet are arguably the most important for broader climate action. Here are five reasons to broaden the youth momentum to include and empower the elderly:
1. Rising Emissions – and Highly Sensitive
The elderly are disproportionately vulnerable to exposure to climate change, particularly adverse health effects and extreme weather events. Their vulnerabilities may be exacerbated by impaired mobility, social isolation (in some cultures) and poor access to services. For example, in 2005 there were 75% of all deaths in the US due to Hurricane Katrina. 60 years and above.
Conversely, the per capita carbon footprint of the elderly may include a relatively high Residential Energy Consumption and Car Dependence. Over time those with a larger carbon footprint in the younger generation can pass on their higher per capita emissions to later life.
2. The share of the elderly population and emissions will increase
Globally, 65 and over are fastest growing demographic, is poised to become one of the most important social changes of this century. It is not limited to developed regions such as Japan or Southern Europe; Today two thirds of the world’s elderly live in emerging countries And most of the countries are experiencing an increase in the number and proportion of older persons in their population. These trends could see an increase in the cumulative and proportional emissions contribution of the elderly in the coming years.
3. They Count Their Votes
Like nonviolent protest, voting in national elections is often considered a citizenship right. However, while all elderly citizens are eligible (or required) to vote, many young people cannot (or are not) to vote. In addition, there is a long-term trend of voter ageing in countries such as the US, where the majority (52%) of all registered voters are in 2020. were 50 years of age and older (up from 41% in 1996). some studies show that the elderly feel they will be less affected by climate change than younger people, and less able to act on it, which may Influencing support for policy change.
4. Climate Policy Needs Related to Aging
There isn’t much policy cohesion on aging and climate change. For example, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (and targets) mention only older people. three times, and the main mechanism for national level progress tracking shows that only one country in 110 (Andorra) reports on aging-related efforts to achieve the Target on Climate Action (SDG13).
5. Older people can be rich
The elders collectively control a growing share of global wealth, spending and wealth. For example, the US already has a population over 55. spends twice as much As a multi-targeted millennial market. By 2030, it is estimated that Only 11% of investable assets There will be people under the age of 45 in America. Yet despite having the majority of shareholder voting rights, older investors consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. less robust than younger investors.
Given the elderly’s position in putting climate rhetoric into action, how do we channel their knowledge and influence? Renewed climate momentum could include increasing the profile of issues and policies relevant to the elderly, such as climate-related risks and opportunities in pensions and investments, household energy conservation, low-carbon mobility options or extreme weather warning systems.
It will also include specific education and capacity-building: while today’s youth may have been exposed to climate change education in school, the elderly were not, and to date climate change communication has been targeted at an older audience. However, notable exceptions exist such as University of the Third Age, primarily aimed at educating and engaging retirees.
COVID has highlighted our global interconnectedness, with neither the young nor the old immune to its direct or indirect effects. In this sense, climate change is equally indiscriminate. In response, we have seen climate advocates like Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg helping bridge the generational divide. Such inter-generational solidarity presents the promise of a more inclusive climate agenda, one that calls for a sense of heritage as well as a concern for the future and an impulse to care for those to come.
As we face the climate crisis together, we need the young and the old, and all the greatness in between. Now is the time for inclusive action.
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