The Dilemma of the Young Generation: Between Mobility and the Climate Crisis
An nuashonrú is déanaí an An Luan, 11/07/2022
Stays abroad, learning mobilities, international experiences. All of this is becoming increasingly important for young people's lives. But when it comes to mobility, a quiet alarm bell rings in the back of our minds - because mobility is not possible without travel, and travel is repeatedly criticised as one of the main causes of climate change. A topic that is particularly important to the Fridays-For-Future generation. So how can young people escape the dilemma between mobility and the climate crisis? In the international workshop "Future me", it is therefore the young people who discuss strategies for making learning mobility more climate-sensitive in the future.
About the workshop
In the international online workshop "Future me" on 7 May 2022, about ten young people from Europe discussed strategies on how learning mobilities can be made more climate-sensitive in the future. The workshop took place within the framework of the IJAB project Learning Mobility in Times of Climate Change (LEMOCC).
Listening to young people
What could a more climate-neutral future look like if we were allowed to let our imagination run wild? With this question, the workshop starts into an instructive and rich in exchange day. It quickly becomes clear that most of the participants are concerned about the future of our world. Ideas emerge ranging from a CO2-account for every person, to floating farms and laws to protect the oceans, to resource cards for a fairer distribution of food. Even if these ideas are only imaginative, they still show us where problems exist and what responsibility we bear today.
The LEMOCC project (Learning Mobility in Times of Climate Change) has also recognised and evaluated these concerns of young people. The study "Listening to young people: Mobility for future" reflects on the opinions, ideas, and problems of young people in Europe about the climate crisis and mobility. In the workshop, key statements on the main topics of politics, pedagogy, and organisation are processed and evaluated based on the study. And the experiences from the different countries paint a similar picture: There is still too little attention to these topics and few people who become active themselves. This is one reason why events of this kind are needed, where young people can have their say and discuss the issues.
"We are the generation that needs this planet in the future!"
On this day, everyone agrees on one thing: young people must and should travel. They should see the world, experience cultures, and gather experiences. Because that is an important part of growing up, of outgrowing yourself.
Even though many projects and events take place online these days, we also agree on this point: Virtual meetings are no substitute for real-life experiences, or at least not completely. So where should we start instead? In an action plan, the ideas of the young people are compiled and concretised. The opinion emerges that politics is under pressure. Because it is easy to blame youth mobility alone.
Instead, general political changes are needed to reduce CO2 emissions, such as the energy transition, a reduction in factory farming or the expansion of local public transport. Specifically, young people would like to see cheaper and easier public transport options, an expansion of digitalisation or sustainable materials during their stay. Because as one of the participants summarises: "We are the generation that needs this planet in the future!" And for that, a shift in thinking in many areas of life is essential.
(Results of the live poll during the workshop on the question who is responsible for climate change)
So, what conclusion can be drawn from workshops like this one? Young people are very committed - especially in climate policy - and have developed a great awareness of their own actions. It is important to reflect on one's own behavior and to question issues such as travel and mobility.
Nevertheless, responsibility must not be shifted to the younger generation alone. Instead, the issue should be examined from several angles. Educational institutions, which must provide information and raise awareness, play a particularly important role here. But also, politics, which can make a real difference. And that is exactly what the "Future me" workshop aims to achieve when the recommendations of the young participants are published as part of the final project publication aimed at practitioners, politicians, and decision-makers.
Only like this can sustainable strategies be disseminated, implemented, and adapted to the needs of (young) people.
Meet the author Leonie Kirstein
"I am now in the final stages of my master's degree program “European Culture and Economy” which hopefully will take me to work in a European context and to be in contact with people of various nations and cultures. Being a part of the European Pool of Young Journalists allows me to make my voice heard and work towards a better future because I really believe in the importance of spaces where participation of young people in Europe is encouraged. The causes close to my heart are animal welfare, feminism, and equality."
This article reflects the views of the author only. The European Commission cannot be held responsible for it.