Climate change and poverty are the most important global issues facing their generations, Millenials and Gen Z in the UK and US agree

In June 2021, US President Joe Biden will visit the UK to attend the G7 Conference, his first trip overseas since his election last year. According to the president’s press secretary, “This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our priorities on public health, economic recovery, and climate change..."

Climate change is also the focus of the United Nations summit conference—known as COP26—to be held in Glasgow in November and for which the UK is host. Addressing a virtual preliminary summit, President Biden said, “Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade—this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.” And at the summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented, "We can do this together across the world. It's going to mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the $100bn [greenhouse gas emissions reduction] commitment they already made in 2009."

Millennials and Gen Z in the UK and US would seem to agree. According to the results of surveys conducted among Millennials and Gen Z in the UK and US, climate change and poverty are the top-ranking global issues facing their generations.

  • Among these younger generations, 43 per cent  in the UK and 41 per cent in the US consider climate change to be a major global issue and they identify climate change as an issue they would like their countries to confront together.
  • In addition, 39 per cent in the UK and 44 per cent in the US consider poverty and hunger significant challenges for people their age in other parts of the world.

Further, one-third in the UK, including 42 per cent of women, think “terrorism” is another top global issue confronting people their age. 

  • One-third of younger Americans also think “terrorism” is a major global issue as well as “lack of human rights,” “government corruption,” “access to healthcare,” “violent crime in communities,” and “access to clean water.”

Other global issues of concern shared by younger generations in the UK and US (cited by 22 per cent to 30 per cent) include:

  • Income inequality
  • Destruction of the environment/nature
  • Population growth
  • Access to education
  • Unemployment and lack of economic growth
  • Armed conflicts
  • Migration and refugees
  • Discrimination of minorities

Young people in the UK additionally identify global issues of concern as:

  • Lack of human rights
  • Government corruption
  • Access to healthcare
  • Violent crime in communities
  • Access to clean water

As Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden convene to discuss bilateral opportunities, they will have the strong backing of Millennial and Gen Z generations in their respective nations if they collaborate to address the serious challenges of climate change and world poverty.

Most important global issues among Millennials and Gen Z

The survey findings reported here are the result of online surveys of Gen Z and Millennials in the UK and US utilizing a consumer opt-in email panel developed by Dynata. Data was collected in December 2019 from 517 Gen Z and 1,002 Millennial respondents in the UK and from 509 Gen Z and 1,009 Millennial respondents in the US.

Although opt-in consumer panels are not probability samples, findings can be considered directional and indicative of public opinion. In both the UK and US strict selection criteria were imposed to achieve representative cross-sections of populations by: Age—Adult Gen Z (ages 18-22) and Millennials (ages 23-38), geographic region in each country, sex and in the US, further criteria were imposed for Hispanic representation by geographic region. Data for each country and generation were weighted to reflect known age, geographic region, sex, and, in the US, ethnicity by region using projections of the current population in each country by the United Kingdom Statistics Authority and the United States Census Bureau.

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