Tackling the climate emergency is an urgent issue that requires an intergenerational approach. Communities across the UK are ensuring the voices of older people are heard.
In this blog Rhonda Riachi, Age-friendly Communities Manager, reflects on why we need to grow #OlderAndGreener, and how local places are taking action to tackle the climate emergency.
Why we are #OlderAndGreener
If you think the Climate Emergency is only a problem for younger people, and older people are just letting them get on with solving it, think again. Evidence shows that older age groups are just as motivated as younger people to tackle climate change and often more likely to make changes to reduce its impact.
We know that older people are also active in community efforts. A good example is the action being taken by Age-friendly Communities across the UK to tackle the climate emergency, with 35 out of 52 local authorities in the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities having declared a climate emergency. An Age-friendly Community is a place where people of all ages are able to live healthy and active later lives. They engage all key players in a locality and involve older people at every stage of their plans.
Whose planet is it anyway?
The effects of the climate crisis are of course impacting young and old alike and have grave consequences for all generations. However, older people are often at the greatest risk of the immediate effects of environmental changes such as severe storms, extremes in temperature, and flooding.
We know that older people are more likely to live in poorly insulated homes, and in 2018 around 17,000 people died in the UK because their homes were too cold. Summer heatwaves likewise caused 900 excess deaths in 2019, and hotter summers will increase this risk.
In fact, the government will never reach its zero carbon targets if we don’t all make changes to our homes that reduce their carbon footprint – another example of how acting for the planet will also help us all to age well.
Partnerships for action
The UK Network of Age-friendly Communities has been celebrating the action local areas are taking with a campaign, #OlderAndGreener: tackling the climate emergency together. Local authorities in the network are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their areas. Some examples include:
- Newcastle is developing age-friendly and energy efficient housing through an innovative partnership with Newcastle University and Karbon Homes. The properties will include options to rent or buy and have been designed for lifelong occupation.
- Nottingham City Council plan to become carbon-neutral by 2028.
- A partnership in Barnsley has begun a pilot project to add solar batteries to 75 properties for older people with existing solar panels. The ‘Smart Solar’ project could cut up to 30-40% off existing electricity bills.
Older people in the UK network are joining campaigns, taking action and sharing their stories of intergenerational action, as our #OlderAndGreener resources show. Greater Manchester Ageing Hub have also shared an online toolkit for climate campaigning, featuring videos, images and more.
We can’t do this without you
You can be part of the solution. Get involved in your community and find out how you can help, both directly – making a pledge to action, such as reducing waste, or reducing your carbon footprint. Share the positive stories of intergenerational climate action happening all over the world, which can inspire others. Or you can have your community sign up to become an Age-friendly Community, work with your local authority to declare a climate emergency and take action together.
Explore the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities and how we are working for a better future for all.
Join us as we grow #OlderAndGreener together.