Over-65s top poll of climate-conscious behaviours

Person placing food waste into a yellow compost bin in a kitchen
  • Seven in 10 UK residents feel urgent action is required to address climate change
  • Over-65s twice as likely to take certain climate-friendly steps than those aged 18-24
  • Although almost one in five UK people aged 18-24 is vegetarian or vegan
  • Half of UK adults feel tackling the cost of living is more important than mitigating climate change
  • UK ranked third out of G7 countries in Aviva’s Climate-Ready Index, after Germany and France

Over-65s are leading the way when it comes to climate-conscious behaviours in the UK, Aviva research suggests today.

A YouGov poll* of 1,000 UK adults - commissioned as part of Aviva’s 2023 Climate-Ready Index - finds people aged 65+ are taking more steps to minimise their environmental impact than any other UK age group. People in this age group are most likely to recycle as much as possible (88%), turn off lights in unoccupied rooms (91%), and choose energy-efficient appliances (63%).

And in the case of shopping local and saving waste water, people in the 65+ age group are twice as likely to take these actions than those aged 18-24 – (59% vs 29% and 12% vs 24% respectively).

However, encouragingly, the 2023 Aviva study also suggests that younger people will be taking more actions in the future to reduce their impact on the planet.

This is in spite of those aged 18-24 being most likely to feel compelled to act on climate change. More than a third (36%) of people in this age group say they feel pressure from those around them, compared to 22% of UK adults across all age groups and just 15% of those aged 55-64.

Overall, when faced with a list of 22 everyday behaviours which help to tackle environmental impacts, those aged 65+ carried out 8.1 actions on the list on average, compared to 5.8 actions for those aged 18-24. These figures are incredibly similar to the 8.2 and 5.7 averages for these respective age groups in Aviva’s 2022 Climate-Ready YouGov study**.

However, encouragingly, the 2023 Aviva study also suggests that younger people will be taking more actions in the future to reduce their impact on the planet. Faced with the same list of behaviours, those aged 18-24 were planning to take 3.3 further actions in the next 12 months, compared to 1.8 actions for those aged 65 and above.

Younger people are also much more likely to be vegetarian or vegan, at almost one in five (17%) of those aged 18-24, compared to 8% of those aged 65+, shop at a refillable store (11% vs 4% respectively), and save / invest money in financial companies that invest in socially and environmentally responsible activities (14% vs 8% respectively).

Concerned about climate change – but focused on short-term economic issues

The YouGov research, which formed part of the 2023 Climate-Ready Index’s methodology, also reveals the extent to which people are worried about the environment and actions taken to mitigate their impact. It finds almost three quarters (74%) of those polled are concerned about climate change, and a similar number feel that urgent action is required to address the issue (70%).

However, the data suggests that the economic climate is affecting people’s propensity to act. Half of people surveyed (50%) said that dealing with the cost of living is a greater priority than making changes to reduce their environmental impact. Interestingly, this rises to 58% among people aged 65+.  

This view is borne out by a reduction in certain actions compared to 2022. For example, in the 2022** study, 80% of UK adults said they recycled as much as possible, compared to 75% in the 2023* study. The number of people avoiding items with excess packaging has also dropped by five percentage points during this period (48% to 43%) and fewer people now say they buy from a renewable energy provider (22% to 18%).

By showing people the benefits of being climate-ready, more individuals can be encouraged to make changes with a measurable impact on their world.

But notably, some of the environmentally-conscious steps where older people lead the way, also have financial benefits - for example, turning down heating, installing energy-saving measures around the home and using shorter / lower temperature cycles on the washing machine. The research therefore suggests, in many instances, there are dual benefits, and managing costs and sustainable living need not be mutually exclusive.

Claudine Blamey, Group Sustainability Director, Aviva, says: “There are positive lessons to take from this year’s Climate-Ready Index. The majority of UK residents believe urgent action is required to tackle environmental change. It’s heartening to see that older generations are leading the way through their climate-conscious behaviours and younger people are committing to doing more.

“There is evidence that some people’s efforts are hampered by worries about the economic situation. But many individuals are combining the need to manage costs with their desire to protect the planet. It is vital that people realise making a difference is within their gift, helping their families, communities and country to get ready. By showing people the benefits of being climate-ready, more individuals can be encouraged to make changes with a measurable impact on their world.”

Aviva’s annual Climate-Ready Index analyses and ranks the G7 countries in relation to their readiness to deal with climate change. The latest edition, published today, finds that the UK has maintained its number three position since last year, but has closed the gap on second-place France. Germany is again ranked as the most climate-ready country.

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Media enquiries

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications

Philippa Terry

Financial Communications

Joe Booth

Financial Communications


* Statistics are taken from an online survey of 1,008 UK adults aged 18 and above, between 06–20 June 2023.

** Statistics relate to an online survey of 1,008 UK adults aged 18 and above, between 10-22 August 2022. The same questions and response options were asked in both the 2022 and 2023 surveys.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,008 adults in the UK aged 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th-20th June 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in the UK (aged 18+).

The Aviva Climate-Ready Campaign:

  • Aviva wants the UK to be the world’s most ‘climate-ready’ large economy by 2030. 
  • Being ‘climate-ready’ means reducing our carbon emissions to limit further damage to the climate and adapting how we live and work to protect ourselves from the negative effects of climate change, both at a local level and as part of the global community.  
  • Therefore we will track the progress the UK makes, alongside the other large economies in the G7 (plus Ireland as the only country with whom we share a land border) through our Climate-Ready Index.
  • Over coming months and years, Aviva will announce a range of actions it will take and support it will give to help enable the UK to be more climate-ready – helping communities, our customers, other companies, and our country – as we seek to help make the UK the most climate-ready large economy in the G7 by 2030. 

The Climate-Ready Index:

The Index assesses how climate-ready a country is across four key areas:

  • Emissions and Mitigations
  • Environment and Adaptation
  • Economy & Business
  • Society and Community

Across the four pillars the Index tracks 11 measures on how each country is doing in areas such as  reducing emissions, supporting biodiversity, building climate-resilient infrastructure, helping communities and small businesses prepare, and helping other countries in the world adapt. 

The 2023 Aviva Climate Ready Index can be found here.

Notes to editors:

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