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Don’t put all the blame on Baby Boomers

Greta Thunberg: the young are being “let down by older generations”. Christopher Furlong/Getty

On the vexed question of who’s to blame for climate change, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph, many Gen Zs – those born between the late 1990s and early 2010s – have never been in any doubt. It’s those “selfish, entitled, ignorant, gas-guzzling Baby Boomers”. In January 2020, for example, Greta Thunberg co-signed a “scathing” public statement declaring that the young were being “let down by older generations”. The pop star Billie Eilish went one further, declaring that “old people” had to start listening to the young “so that we don’t all die”.

Turns out they were wrong. In a “fascinating” new poll by YouGov, young people claimed to be the most worried about the issue – but it was older folk who said they were doing more about it. Almost 90% of over-65s said they recycled “as much as possible”, for example, compared with only half of 18- to 24-year-olds. The old were also more likely to save water, turn down the heating, buy locally sourced food, buy energy-efficient appliances and cut down on the number of flights they take. “Greta’s generation” are giving up meat in greater numbers, but the old seem to be doing most of the heavy lifting. Now, sure, young folk may be in “such deep despair” about climate change that some of them have given up trying to tackle the problem. But there is another possible explanation. They may care more about being seen to have the “right” opinion than actually doing something about it. “A type of behaviour that older people like to call ‘virtue-signalling’.”