‘Generation COP’ is less fearful than older people about climate
Despite record global temperatures, catastrophic flooding and searing wildfires this year, nearly half of young participants in a major global survey across 39 economies believe they will personally avoid a climate disaster during their lifetime.
Seiko Epson Corp’s third annual Climate Reality Barometer report, which surveyed more than 30,000 people, found that nearly 49% of respondents aged 16 to 29 are “very optimistic” or “somewhat optimistic” they won’t be affected by events like floods, droughts or landslides, and that number dwindled to just 32% for participants 55 and older. Rising costs are a bigger concern than global warming for people 29 and younger, though a changing climate was the top issue for those 30 and older.
The report aims to provide greater insight about the views of young people born since 1995, when the United Nations held its first climate conference, an annual summit known as COP. The survey finds this so-called “COP generation” doesn’t feel the same sense of crisis as older groups. Widespread familiarity with climate change and a belief in technology-driven solutions may be contributing to a lower sense of urgency, Seiko Epson CEO Yasunori Ogawa said in an interview.
“Younger people, especially those of this generation, have been living under global warming since birth, so they may not feel so threatened by the change,” he said in an interview. The gap between perception and atmospheric reality is a risk and requires more education, according to Ogawa.
The report suggests that many people may not fully grasp the consequences and trajectory of the Earth’s climate based on current levels of emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last month “humanity has opened the gates to hell” and said urgent action is required to avert a 2.8°C temperature increase that will disproportionately impact the world’s poorest.
Climate change is already exacerbating inflation and extreme weather events like drought, flooding and hotter temperatures are poised to impact agriculture putting more pressure on food supplies as global warming accelerates. Rising temperatures could boost annual food inflation between 0.9% and 3.2% per year by 2035, according to a report from the European Central Bank.
Seiko Epson, a technology manufacturer known for its printers, has commissioned the survey every year since 2021 as it seeks to understand the attitudes and expectations of consumers across different markets globally. The report was conducted by Opinion Matters.
Many of the respondents said they are already making behavioural changes and reducing consumption to help tackle climate change. Across all age groups nearly 38% said they are travelling less internationally for work and pleasure and about 30% said they plan to make this change in the future. Nearly 20% reported they have switched to an electric vehicle and 51% said they expect to do so in the future.
The world’s 28th United Nations climate conference will take place this year in Dubai from late November to early December.