Gen Z’ers believe it is their responsibility to take action on climate change but they should not be responsible, according to new research.
Gen Z is the youngest most ethnically-diverse and largest generation in American history, comprising 27 per cent of the US population.
The Gen Z generation was born between 1997-2012, following millennials, and grew up with technology, the internet and social media which sometimes causes them to be stereotyped as tech-addicted, anti-social, or ‘social justice warriors’. Gen Z will soon become the largest cohort of consumers and brands who want a piece of this opportunity will need to understand their tendencies and digital expectations.
New research from dcdx, in collaboration with WildAid highlights Gen Z’s beliefs around climate change. The research shows that more than 75 per cent of Gen Z’ers believe it is their responsibility to take action, but at the same time that they should not be responsible.
One Gen Z’er said, “The majority of the time, the environment doesn’t feel like it should be a responsibility of our generation. So we’re like, why do we have to deal with it?”
Yet according to the research, this belief in responsibility is contributing to more eco-anxiety, a prevalent negative force among Gen Z’ers that is preventing further action.
On top of this, Gen Z is riddled with beliefs of action insignificance, says the research. They believe their individual actions will not have an impact on the climate. In fact, when asked why they thought their peers were not doing more to combat climate change, 53 per cent said “they think their actions won’t make an impact”.
As the first social generation to have grown up with access to the Internet and portable digital technology from a young age, members of Generation Z, even if not necessarily digitally literate, have been dubbed ‘digital natives’.
Compared to previous generations, members of Generation Z tend to live more slowly than their predecessors when they were their age. Generation Z teenagers are more concerned than older generations with academic performance and job prospects, and are better at delaying gratification than their counterparts from the 1960s despite concerns to the contrary.
Around the world, members of Generation Z are spending more time on electronic devices and less time reading books than before with implications for their attention spans, vocabulary, academic performance and future economic contributions.
The new research, titled ‘Gen Z and the Climate Crisis: From Eco-Anxiety to Eco-Action’, highlights just how many members of Generation Z believe bigger action is needed to impact meaningful climate change.
The research highlights the feelings that arise from this belief lead to more eco-anxiety, fuelling a cycle of inaction and more anxiety.
Based on existing research, dcdx identified three questions that help to progress the study of climate change and eco-anxiety, each of which can be found in part three of the report.
The three questions each address a barrier to action, items that are preventing Gen Z’ers from taking further action on climate change and increasing their eco-anxiety.