Climate change is now attracting enormous media attention and, in particular, affects the future of young people. Many factors have an influence on the climate. One of them, which consumers can control, is their own diet. A research team from the University of Göttingen has investigated awareness of climate change in conjunction with young people's individual food choices. The results were published in the journal Cleaner and Responsible Consumption.
Researchers from the University of Göttingen’s Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products research group sent questionnaires to around 1400 people in Germany between the ages of 15 and 29. They were asked to evaluate statements on climate change awareness; both their own intentions to behave in a certain way, and the future consequences of those intentions were recorded. The survey shows that the younger generation can be divided into three groups with different levels of climate awareness: supporters (57 percent), undecided (29 percent), and deniers (14 percent). Overall, it shows that the younger generation are very aware of climate change. There is a large group that actually manages to implement climate-friendly behaviour in their own diet. 29 percent of this group are flexitarians – that is, they occasionally eat meat – and 17 percent already eat a meat-free diet. The undecided group acknowledges climate change, but does not yet take this into account in their own behaviour. The deniers generally do not recognise climate change or believe that it is not caused by humans and so they do not take this into account in their own diet.
"Our results show that a lot of communication is necessary to promote a more climate-conscious diet among the undecided group," says Dr Kristin Jürkenbeck from the University of Göttingen, lead author of the study. "The topic of climate change and climate awareness is becoming increasingly important for consumers in all areas of life. This is also clear from public discussion and must not be ignored by companies and politicians," says Professor Achim Spiller, head of the research group, Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products.
Original publication: Jürkenbeck, K., Spiller, A., and Schulze, M. (2021). Climate change awareness of the young generation and its impact on their diet. Cleaner and Responsible Consumption. DOI: 10.1016/j.clrc.2021.100041
Dr Kristin Jürkenbeck
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences – Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products
Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073 Göttingen, Germany