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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 01:59 GMT
Over-50s 'worst carbon culprits'
A power station emitting fumes
The over-50s want more done to combat global warming
People aged between 50 and 64 have the UK's largest "carbon footprints", according to research.

But they are also the most concerned about climate change, and want the government to do more to tackle global warming, the study says.

The report - Greening the Greys - is published by the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York.

The research included analysis of UK residents by age and expenditure, along with surveys and focus groups.

Researchers found that people in the 50-64 age group have a carbon footprint of 13.52 tonnes per capita per year, compared with the UK average of 11.81 tonnes.

The government needs to take action to make a low carbon lifestyle an easier option
Dr Gary Haq,
Report author

Carbon intensive activities, such as high car dependence, holidays abroad and eating out, are factors which contribute to the size of their footprint.

But the report adds that the over-50s worry about the climate their grandchildren will inherit, and feel frustrated by what they see as the failure of the government and businesses to tackle the problem adequately.

'Open door'

Dr Gary Haq, researcher on lifestyle and climate change and lead author of the report, said the government should take measures to help everyone in the UK lead a less carbon intensive life, not just the older population.

50 to 64: 13.52 tonnes
65 to 74: 12.10 tonnes
75+: 11.11 tonnes
UK average: 11.81 tonnes
Source: Greeing the Grays report

"The government is essentially pushing at an open door with regard to achieving a change in behaviour in the over-50s and a move to a low carbon lifestyle," he said.

"In order to close the gap between concern for climate change and the impact of current lifestyles, the government needs to take action to make a low carbon lifestyle an easier option not just for the over-50s, but for everyone."

Researchers found those aged between 65 and 74 have a carbon footprint of 12.10 tonnes of carbon dioxide per capita per year, while the figure for those aged 75 and over is 11.11 tonnes.

But the over-75s have the highest impact on the climate pound spent compared with other age groups because home heating - which is carbon intensive - represents 40% of their carbon footprint.

More than 54% of over-50s are worried about the impact of climate change and are particularly concerned about the impact on the UK climate, economy and weather, according to the report.

And 75% of the over-50s believe they are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate.


Those questioned for the study identified barriers related to energy, travel and waste which they said prevented them from following a low carbon lifestyle.

The report calls for a number of measures to help the people of all ages improve their carbon footprint.

These include increasing the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock, especially for those aged 70 and over; investing in high quality public transport and a reduction in its cost; and the introduction of packaging waste tax to encourage manufacturers to reduce packaging levels.

The report's researchers conducted an attitudinal survey of over 700 people aged 50+ in North Yorkshire, and held five focus groups involving 50 people.

A baby boomer discuss her carbon footprint

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