When it comes to climate change, it’s no wonder so many of us feel a growing need to take action, especially against a backdrop of environmental protests. In fact, recent research commissioned by Triodos Bank shows that 29% of Brits feel overwhelmed by the crisis, with that number rising to 40% amongst younger people aged 16-24. So, this ‘eco-anxiety’ is having an impact on just over a third (34%) of us.
Psychology Today defines eco-anxiety as a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of people who worry about the environmental and climate crisis. The older generation (55+) has a more positive outlook, with 27% believing we will find a solution to climate breakdown, compared to only 20% of those aged 35-44. In contrast, 10% of Brits believe there is nothing we can do – and 7% think the issue doesn’t affect them.
Caroline Hickman is an academic from the University of Bath, who specialises in young people’s relationships with nature and feelings about the climate crisis. She says: “Eco-anxiety is a new phenomenon which is a direct response to the unprecedented challenges we are facing with the climate and biodiversity emergency.
“At a personal level many people are increasingly anxious not just for their own future; but also, for that of future generations; our children, and their children. But this anxiety can also strengthen our resolve, be met with courage and imagination, and serve to inspire us to make the changes needed.”
One of the main aims of Triodos’s research was to discover if a rise in eco-anxiety and awareness could lead to an increase in radical action to protect the environment. A fifth (18%) of people admitted that they weren’t prepared to take any radical steps to avert climate catastrophe, 15% would be prepared to give up flying and 10% would choose to not have children to protect the planet. The same proportion of Brits would join a protest, such as a school strike, or those organised by campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
How far would you go?
These are the top 5 radical actions that the UK public is prepared to take to fight the environmental emergency:
- Go plastic-free (57%)
- Install renewable energy technology at home (37%)
- Give up a car or buy an electric vehicle (22%)
- Move money to a bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels (16%)
- Stop buying new clothes (15%)
Talking about the findings of the research, Bevis Watts, CEO of Triodos Bank UK, adds: “Our research clearly shows many people feel overwhelmed by the scale of the climate challenge we face. Many more are unaware that the world’s top banks have poured £1.5 trillion into financing fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was adopted.
“We want to empower more people to put their money behind the environmental movement and really make a difference. Money doesn’t have to be invested in dirty fossil fuels – it can be used to make a positive difference to society, be it socially, culturally or environmentally.
If you look at the latest Current Account Switch Service figures, you’ll see that Triodos is one of only six UK banks making net switching gains – with consistent positive figures since launching the account in 2017 and overall customer numbers at the bank growing by 26% over the past three years.
It seems that younger people are significantly more likely to take action. Just over a quarter (26%) of those aged 16-24 would move their money to a more ethical bank from a fossil fuel-funding bank. A fifth (20%) of this age group would also consider going vegan, compared to only 6% of those aged 55+.
How does the environmental emergency make you feel?
Find out more about an Ethical Current Account here