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Older people and the environmental crises

How older people want charities and government to respond to the climate and nature crises:
Findings from deliberation groups with the people most impacted

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.​

As part of our Everyone’s Environment programme of work, in the summer of 2023, NPC and partners met with young people, people from ethnic minority communities, Disabled people, and older people across the UK, to find out how the environmental crises are affecting their lives and what they want charities and policy makers to do next.​

We directly spoke to 21 older people (aged over 65) via three focus groups and seven 1:1 calls, about the impacts of the climate and nature crises on their lives, and what they wanted policy makers to do about it.

What older people say:

  • 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.

What older people want charities to do:

  • 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.


Find out more about the Everyone's Environment programme of work

Everyone’s Environment

What do different social groups have in common?

This document is one of four published in September 2023, each exploring the input from a different social group: young people, Disabled people, older people and people from ethnic minority communities. 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.

In partnership with

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Other deliberation group findings