Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Generation Z fears climate change more than anything else; lives in failed system

Credit: Rosa Castaneda

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Greta Thunberg today called upon world leaders to stop using "clever accounting and creative PR" to avoid real action on climate change.  Thunberg’s chiding of world leaders seems to chime with young people’s beliefs, according to a major new study by Amnesty International.

The Amnesty poll, released yesterday on Human Rights Day asked more than 10,000 people aged 18-25 - also known as Generation Z - in 22 countries across six continents, to pick up to five major issues from a list of 23.

Of those, four out of 10 young people (41%) selected climate change, making it the most commonly cited issue globally, ahead of pollution (36%) and terrorism (31%).

“For young people the climate crisis is one of the defining challenges of their age,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.  “This is a wake-up call to world leaders that they must take far more decisive action to tackle the climate emergency or risk betraying younger generations further.”

Global warming was also most commonly cited as one of the most important environmental issues facing the world (57%), out of 10 environmental issues such as ocean pollution, air pollution and deforestation.

In their own countries, Generation Z’s concerns extend beyond the climate crisis, reflecting the everyday struggles and concerns young people are facing and the feeling that they are  “living inside a failed system”.

At a national level corruption was most commonly cited as one of the most important issues (36%), followed by economic instability (26%), pollution (26%), income inequality (25%), climate change (22%) and violence against women (21%).

“This generation lives in a world of widening inequality, economic instability and austerity where vast numbers of people have been left behind,” said Kumi Naidoo.

“The message from young people is clear. The climate crisis, pollution, corruption and poor living standards are all windows on an alarming truth about how the powerful have exploited their power for selfish and often short-term gain.”

The survey’s findings come at a time of widespread mass protests around the world, from Algeria to Chile, Hong Kong, Iran, Lebanon, and Sudan. Many of these movements have been largely led by young people and students, who have angrily called out corruption, inequality, and abuse of power and faced violent repression for doing so.