Older New Zealanders increasingly concerned about climate change - study

Climate anxiety isn't only affecting young Kiwis.

A study of attitudes over a 10-year period shows older New Zealanders are becoming increasingly aware of the risks of climate change.

Thousands of school students took to the streets in 2019 protesting a lack of climate change action. And the protestors weren't all young.

"I'm very embarrassed about where my generation has got the world today," one person said.

The increase in older activists is inspiring new research on generational attitudes about climate change.

Using a decade of data from the Attitudes and Values Survey, a new study has found older Kiwis are just as concerned about climate change as the younger generation.

"Across all age groups there is a comparable increase, the same rate of increase," says Dr Taciano Milfont, the lead author of the University of Waikato study. "Older people are also concerned."

Older people like Caz Sheldon.

"If not me then who, who is going to do it? That definitely is the driver," she says.

The 70-year-old was part of the 2019 Extinction Rebellion protest in Wellington that shut down main roads and closed the ANZ bank.

"We don't know how much longer we've got and we want to leave the place better than it is now."

Wellingtonians we spoke to still think it's the younger generation driving change. But activists believe older people are playing a bigger part.

"I've seen really encouraging developments, where older people are coming out to support young people," says Coal Action Network spokesperson Tim Jones.

The Government has until the end of the year to put a plan in place for how New Zealand will reach its goal of net-zero carbon by 2050.

"We can still do things so let's get on with it," Sheldon says.