14 May 2024, 13:27
Jack McGovan

Concerns about climate widespread among middle-aged and older people in Germany - survey

Clean Energy Wire

Climate change is a great concern for middle-aged and older people in Germany, according to a survey published by the German Centre of Gerontology. People over the age of 43, which is defined as the age splitting the population in a younger and an older cohort, on average testified to be more concerned about the climate crisis than not. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 denotes a feeling of extreme threat, the average value was just below 6, and around one in four people in this age group rated the threat posed by the climate crisis as rather higher (values 8-10).  "The idea that older people don't care about this topic turns out to be a prejudice," said Germany's family minister, Lisa Paus. "This is an important finding, because it lets generations close ranks and fosters a joint approach," she argued. Calls for more ambitious climate action in Germany in recent years have often been championed by groups featuring a high share of young members, such as the Fridays for Future student movement, which has contributed to a perception that young people tend to be more concerned with the climate crisis. 

The survey also found that the level of income had little effect on concerns around the climate crisis. However, there was a relevant difference between men and women: Where men had an average level of concern of 5.57, women were at 6.03. The report suggests that this fits with other surveys. “Women and girls are more socialised to be concerned about public welfare,” said Mareike Bünning, one of the report’s authors. “On average, women place themselves more to the left of the political spectrum in comparison to men, and climate is often seen as a left-wing issue.”

Polls have shown that Germans have put climate action at or near the top of their country's policy priorities for several years and remain strongly in support of the transition to a low-carbon and nuclear-free economy. However, as issues like geopolitical stability, migration or the economic situation have gained in relevance, there has been less focus on climate in recent months. In Europe more broadly, there is strong support for the energy transition, with French, Danish and Swiss citizens seeing climate as the most important major crisis.

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