78 per cent find green living difficult
Youngsters want to live climate-friendly, but are not willing to give up holiday flights, shows study from NHH and UiB.
‘Transportation stands out as the most frequently mentioned topic that young people are not willing to give up, with equal distribution between car use and holiday flights, and meat in second place,’ says NHH Professor Trine Dahl, at the Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication.
She recently presented the main results from the CLIMLIFE project at the conference “Living with Climate Change”, together with the other project members (see facts). The conference gathered participants from a number of countries across the globe.
- CLIMLIFE is a cross-disciplinary project between University of Bergen and Norwegian School of Economics that studies how Norwegian citizens relate the challenges of climate change to their normal, day-to-day life choices.
- It is financed by the Research Council of Norway (01.08.2020-31.08.2023).
- Project members: Kjersti Fløttum (head of project), Trine Dahl, Helge Drange, Dag Elgesem, Øyvind Gjerstad, Ida Vikøren Andersen and Emil Perron (Research Assistant).
One of the studies from the CLIMLIFE project – and the main foucs for Dahl's presentation – emphasises youth voices and lifestyle matters in a climate perspective. As many as 42 per cent of the high school students in the Bergen area who participated find green living admirable, but not an easy or straightforward way to live. Rather, it implies something challenging (78 per cent) and difficult (63 per cent).
‘The emphasis on keeping holiday flights may perhaps be contributed to the geographically isolated position of Bergen as well as to the lack of freedom to travel during the pandemic (the study was carried out in 2021). The attention on car transport displayed by some participants may indicate an urban-rural divide, given that some of the students live in rural areas with poor public transport, making cars a necessity,’ says Dahl.
They also asked the students to what extent they are worried about climate change. A total of 49 per cent say that they are worried (36 per cent) or very worried (13 per cent) about climate change.
Women more climate-friendly than men
The study shows that the majority of the students display a clear willingness to live in a climate-friendly way, with recycling and transportation as the main areas. 54 per cent answer that they to a very high or high degree are interested in living a climate-friendly life.
This corresponds well with the views of seniors across Norway (age group 65+), who were asked in a more recent study done by CLIMLIFE team. 56 per cent of the participants report that they are interested in living a climate-friendly life. The women are more interested than the men, with 64 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively.
‘It was interesting, but perhaps not surprising to see a gender difference in the senior group. Other research has pointed to gender differences in climate change matters’, says Dahl.
Dislike the word “shame”
Shame is a concept which is often being used in the climate discourse. In the Norwegian debate we often talk about flight shame, meat shame and oil shame. 45 per cent of the high school students and 83 per cent of the seniors found the use of this word very negative and even silly. Those who offer an explanation for why they don’t like it seem to find it unhelpful in bringing about change.
The researchers from CLIMLIFE have recently carried out a survey through the Norwegian Citizen Panel asking people about words and arguments they themselves would use to motivate people to live a climate-friendly life.
‘We will start analysing the answers very soon and thereby get insights into which aspects of the climate issue the respondents find most relevant and whether positive or negative content words dominate. For instance, do they suggest appealing to intergenerational justice, with focus on ‘our children and grandchildren’, the need for urgent action, 'gloom-and-doom' scenarios or 'a better world for all’?
Don’t think they have political influence
As many as 41 per cent of the high school students said no to the question about having a potential influence on climate politics. The reasons were diverse, but many expressed that “my voice counts little”.
‘One very interesting finding was that they do not consider school strikes as the most important way of influencing climate politics. Rather, the most important action turned out to be putting pressure on family and friends to take care of the climate,’ says Dahl, and adds:
‘This may be explained by the fact that the large majority of the participants were too young to vote themselves, and thus have no formal political influence.’
Photos: Unsplash/Markus Spiske and Katie Rodriguez