HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Friday, March 24, 2023

Older Persons and Climate Action

Alan S. Gutterman (Independent), Older Persons and Climate Action (2022):

Despite arguments, and some polling evidence, to the contrary, older adults are just as concerned as younger people about climate change; however, uncertainty remains about the optimal strategies for leveraging the resources that older people can bring to the debate surrounding climate change. One big problem is misconceptions about the physical and mental capabilities of older persons and their ability to contribute to climate action and there have been calls for a reframing of the general aging narrative in US society to emphasize that older adults represent a precious form of human capital with the potential to contribute creatively and constructively solving urgent societal problems, including those associated with climate change. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has argued that older persons possess enormous knowledge, experience, skills and resilience that give them the capacity to be key contributors in global efforts to mitigate and adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. The OHCHR emphasized the various ways in which older persons bring unique and important contributions to climate action, including supporting their families and communities financially and through informal care work, contributing to decision-making and conflict resolution, imparting important knowledge of science, history, tradition and culture and wielding significant voting and economic power that can be mobilized for effective climate policy. This chapter explores how older people can be involved in climate action as volunteers, voters, consumers and active participants in setting priorities and policies for addressing climate change.

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