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New survey to gauge over 55s' attitudes to the environment

Posted on 1 February 2012

An international survey of the attitudes of the over 55s to the environment is being launched by a consortium of older people’s organisations, led by the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York and Simon Fraser University’s Gerontology Research Centre (Canada).

The EnviroSurvey55 will provide a snap shot of current attitudes of older people to environmental issues, such as climate change, in an age of austerity and rising environmental scepticism. It aims to identify difficulties that people over age 55 face in personally taking action to reduce their environment footprint.

The results of the survey will feed into the policy process and help develop better strategies that address the environmental concerns of an ageing population 

Dr Gary Haq

Dr Gary Haq, Senior Researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute, said: “The survey will provide insight into the level of understanding and concern about environmental issues in this demographic group, including differences that are linked to geography and location. The results of the survey will feed into the policy process and help develop better strategies that address the environmental concerns of an ageing population.

Other consortium partners include, Age UK, Community Service Volunteers’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP), Help Age International and the Council On The Ageing (COTA) – Victoria (Australia).

Professor Gloria Gutman, Research Associate at Simon Fraser University’s Gerontology Research Centre said: “Evidence shows that older people can be disproportionately affected by environmental problems such as air pollution, climate change-related heat waves and other natural disasters. It’s important that seniors around the world make their voices heard so that steps will be taken to better prepare them and to meet their needs when they can’t always do it themselves.” 

The EnviroSurvey55 builds on previous studies of older people and the environment, in particular the vulnerability of this demographic group to the effects of a changing climate and the need for new approaches which are sensitive to personal circumstances in later life.

The survey comes at a time when the environment will again be in the international spotlight as world leaders gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference for Environment and Development “Earth Summit” in June 2012.

The online survey will be conducted from the 1 February – 31 March 2012, and anyone over the age of 55 can complete it by visiting

Notes to editors:

  • The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) is a global science policy research institute headquartered in Stockholm and with its UK office based in the Environment Department at the University of York. Its mission is to bridge the gap between science and policy to achieve change for a sustainable future.
  • More about the University of York’s Environment Department can be found on
  • SEI has produced the following reports on older people and environment: Greening the Greys: Over 50s and Climate, Growing Old in a Changing Climate, Older People and Environment: The Case for Better Engagement.
  • The Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University recently hosted a conference on the interface of population ageing and climate change, two of the biggest challenges facing the world today. Proceedings are available at
  • Help Age International is a global network of organisations helping older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Age UK provides core funding to HelpAge International.
  • Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life. They provide free information, advice and support to over five million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life.
  • The voice of Victoria’s seniors, COTA Victoria is the representative body of older individuals and organisations representing seniors. COTA is a non-profit organisation committed to human rights, social justice and the eradication of ageism. Their mission is to mobilise older people and those who work with them, to age well in a just society.
  • RSVP encourages volunteering in the over 50's within the UK and is part of Community Service Volunteers (CSV), a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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