Environmental crises don’t affect us all in the same way; some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised people are likely to be worst affected.
In spring 2023, NPC and partners published briefings exploring how the climate and nature crises and related policy impact upon young people, people from ethnic minority communities, and Disabled people and older people.
In summer 2023, to find out how the environmental crises are affecting their lives and what they want charities and policy makers to do next, NPC and partners met, from across the UK, with:
Many of our focus groups were attended by people who fall into more than one group. As such, charities should be mindful of the needs that are shared between groups:
All of the groups we spoke to wanted charities to support them to advocate for action on the environmental crises. Young people and older people felt that the government isn’t doing enough, and older people, Disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities do not feel that their voices are heard by policy makers.
All of the groups wanted charities to extend their existing support to help them respond to the environmental crises, which many felt were already impacting their lives. The focus of this differed by group: for example, young people wanted support on mental health, whereas older people and Disabled people wanted specific support with the health impacts of the environmental crises.
Many of the groups also raised a need for better information and education about environmental impacts, policy responses, and the actions that individuals can take.
Policy makers should be mindful of the priorities that are shared between groups:
Transport is a policy priority for all groups, though specific solutions varied between the groups. Many groups (older people, Disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities) highlighted the need for transport infrastructure to be more accessible, and for greater subsidy for those on low incomes.
All groups thought that government policy needed to balance regulation with increased subsidies.
Other than transport, policy priorities varied:
Young people and people from ethnic minority communities shared priorities around renewable energy, as well as about investment in green jobs and skills.
Older people and people from ethnic minority communities shared priorities around housing.
Disabled people prioritised environmental policies that protect household income and acknowledge the increased costs faced by
Disabled people in responding to environmental impacts.
Charities need to help young people be involved in the environmental action.
Young people want charities to green their operations as a bare minimum. But they also want charities to teach them and others about the issues; help them access green jobs and training; support them with their mental health; and provide opportunities for time outside.
Other key insights from what young people say in short:
Young people hope simply to enjoy what many of us take for granted. A lot of these dreams feel harder to reach due to the impacts of the environmental crises.
Young people see better nature and climate as central to the life they want to live.
Young people think about the climate crisis and worry about what it means for their futures.
Charities should give older people an appropriate platform to input into action on the climate and nature crises.
Charities should support older people with the impacts of the climate and nature crises. For example: ensure continuity of services/transport in extreme weather; help people to manage health conditions; and support access to food and water in emergencies.
Other key insights from what older people say in short:
Older people are not complacent about the climate and nature crises. They already see its impacts, especially on health and wellbeing, and they worry about its impacts on themselves and future generations.
Older people feel that the government has not taken sufficient action during their lifetimes and are frustrated
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