A clean energy transition which is driven by the adoption of renewable energies and energy efficiency takes centre stage in the EU’s energy and climate policy strategy. This strategy aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 2050. With the effects of climate change suddenly becoming more visible in Europe, as seen with the rising temperatures hitting European countries, the time to act is now. The clean energy transition is a crucial enabler of climate resilience, which can be further advanced by societies, communities and individuals across Europe.
With new and informed policies being developed to tackle the climate crisis, we often overlook communities and their views on the clean energy transition through the acquisition of renewable energies. To complement the steady growth of policies reacting to the climate emergency, an educational approach is needed to increase the level of awareness across generations. This will enable decisive action to diversify Europe’s energy sources while slowly decarbonising the market.
So far, the EU wants to accelerate the uptake of renewables to contribute to and reach the goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Young people are key stakeholders who must be part of the co-design process, since the youth of a country determines its future. Current decision-makers need to explicitly include youth in any policymaking process that addresses energy concerns between generations. This is especially true given that Generation Z shows the most concern for the planet and its well-being, whilst also influencing other age groups. For example, a recent study shows that Generation X (those aged 42-56) have increased spending on sustainable brands and products by 25% since 2019 with the help of Generation Z.
A survey has revealed that eight in ten (80%) of Gen Z and 78% of Millennials would reject properties which did not meet minimum energy efficiency standards, compared to six in ten (64%) of Gen X. This exemplifies where priorities lie within each generation, and shows that to bridge this gap we need to initiate dialogue with the help of Gen Z individuals.
A crucial element of this much-needed transformation is the inclusion of intergenerational dialogue to speed up the transition to clean energy. We must urge EU officials to initiate a public dialogue that includes experts in the field of energy alongside younger generations to debate Europe's energy future. This can invite discussion and reflection on the context, opportunities and next steps when it comes to the energy crisis, and how young people have a crucial role to play in shaping the EU's energy strategy, such as in the European Youth Energy Day Dialogue with Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.
Conversation brings unity and understanding that can be further shared with others around the globe. These conversations can shed light on different concepts and can influence or even change people’s minds when it comes to how they use or consume energy. Through increased awareness, inclusive policies, and the adoption of green technologies and solutions such as renewables, we can make a further impact together in tackling the climate crisis.
- A systemic approach to the energy transition in Europe
- Theme report on Energy Transition: Towards the achievement of SDG 7 and net-zero emissions
- European Energy Transition 2030: The Big Picture
About the author:
Aiyesha Swarnn is the External Relations Assistant at ThinkYoung. Aiyesha engages with business development, projects, and partnerships across Europe. She is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in History and International Relations to further pursue her interest in public policy. She is passionate about bringing young people forward to decision-making processes and discussions that have a social and environmental impact.
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Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of the information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and should not be considered as representative of the European Commission’s official position.
- Publication date
- 13 September 2022
- European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency