Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Gen Z Americans – the equivalent of 24.8 million employees – want to work for an employer committed to saving the planet. New Populus research, commissioned on behalf of international non-profit The Climate Group, surveyed over 1,000 16-24 year olds across the US to determine their views on climate change and how it will affect their future choices.

The survey was released ahead of the Global Climate Strike on the 20th September and prefacing the gathering of global leaders for Climate Week NYC (23rd – 29th September). The results reveal a unified message that crosses state and party lines that large businesses and political leaders need to do more now. Findings show young people across Democratic and Republican states (80% vs 76%) feel climate change is an important issue that needs to be solved.

Who should take responsibility?

Over half of those surveyed (60%) feel much of the responsibility to solve climate problems rest on the shoulders of large US businesses. An overwhelming majority (80%) believe US companies should adopt renewable energy in place of fossil fuels, with two in five (40%) believing they should be using 100% clean air already. 41% of respondents think the switch should be made by 2030 at the latest. 61 American businesses have already joined The Climate Group’s global renewable energy program, RE100, meaning there are still hundreds of large businesses across the country that are still yet to commit to 100% renewable energy.

The call for investment in cleaner transport alternatives

Within the transport sector the next generation is calling for greater investment in high speed rail as two-thirds (66%) would support short haul flights being replaced with cleaner alternatives, even if it lengthens their journeys. These results highlight the need for greater investment in high-speed rail across America, who are currently lagging behind Europe and Asia in terms of this cleaner transport alternative.

Opinions on electric cars paint a more complicated picture. Nearly one in five (16%) would buy a fully electric or plug-in hybrid in the next five years, yet many (65%) would still opt to get a gasoline car. Whilst many would choose to buy a petrol car, the same number (65%) feel worried about the health impact of air pollution caused by local traffic.

Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, which annually hosts Climate Week NYC said: “We need wholescale changes to economies and infrastructure to make pro climate choices the new normal. It is in the interests of every business and government to sit up and listen to the next generation of workers and voters.

“We know through our initiatives for business on renewables, electric vehicles, and smart efficient energy and work with state and regional governments that good progress is being made in the UK, but more needs to be done at a greater pace and scale. This year’s Climate Week NYC will provide a timely opportunity for businesses and political leaders to collectively discuss and agree what needs to be done over the next ten years to stop global heating in its tracks.”

Climate-friendly options are not always the most popular

When presented with the prospect of receiving a job offer from a company that isn’t committed to the environment, 46% say they would accept the offer, 39% are on the fence and 15% would outright decline the role. This suggests that, although there is clear evidence that young people believe climate change needs to be tackled, factors like financial pressures could take precedence when it comes to employment possibilities – but further research would need to determine this.

To find out more about Climate Week NYC 2019, visit www.climateweeknyc.org

View the data tables here.

 

Methodology

The Climate Group commissioned Populus to undertake market research among 1,024 16 to 24 year olds in the US. The data included quotas by age, gender, and region, and was weighted to be nationally representative. The online research was conducted between August 23rd – 28th 2019.