The Voice of the Climate Generation: Understanding Gen Z and Climate Comms

When it comes to ‘issues we care about’, the climate crisis is a uniquely oppressive force on a young person’s mind.

Not because it threatens every society’s way of life. Not because it requires systemic changes to the way we eat, move and make things on a scale never seen before.

And not even because we are aware that simply by going about our daily lives, we are contributing to the problem.

It’s because we’re running out of time.

If we don’t make huge reductions in global emissions by 2030, we’ll trigger a series of feedback loops that could accelerate climate change into climate collapse.

For most people on the planet right now, this has forced a collective sense of urgency. And rightly so. We’ve known about this impending crisis for a while now, and we haven’t moved fast enough.

But if you happen to fit into the sweeping bracket of Gen Z, that’s time you never had. You’ve been handed a problem you didn’t cause, don’t have the power to solve in the given timeframe, but whose effects you’ll be feeling for the rest of your life.

In one of his recent Climate Crisis newsletters for The New Yorker, the renowned climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben refers to a moving statement by Martin Luther King in which he speaks of his confidence that he is fighting a winning battle, however long it takes.

King believed that – as McKibben puts it – the “moral arc” was in his favour. The summer of 2020 proved that his is a battle still being fiercely fought, but also that the arc towards racial equality is steadily progressing.

The climate crisis will disproportionately affect people of colour around the world. But in this instance, there’s no time to see that arc progress towards its inevitable goal. The deadlines to take radical action are fast approaching.

Thinking about that makes me frustrated, anxious and sometimes inspired to act.

Our latest piece of research from the FleishmanHillard UK Purposeful Business and Youth & Culture teams – The Voice of the Climate Generation: Understanding Gen Z & Climate Comms – shows how this generational eco-anxiety is impacting upon Gen Z’s role in the climate conversation, and where sometimes they don’t feel they’ve been given a role to play (59% of them don’t believe they are sufficiently included in the climate debate).

So, when you’re next thinking about whether Gen Z matters in how your organisation approaches climate communications, remember that overwhelming relationship young people have been forced to have with their climate and natural world.

Remember that we’ve got great ideas. Remember our voices will soon be the prevailing voice. Remember that the ones with the pens, mics and keyboards are not necessarily the ones who will be most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. And most of all, remember that if you can’t hear us, you haven’t tried hard enough. So come and find us.

TJ Jordan, Senior Account Executive, Purposeful Business

Download the full report, ‘The Voice of the Climate Generation: Understanding Gen Z and Climate Comms’, to see how your organisation can better understand and engage with The Voice of the Climate Generation.

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