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Is generation Y becoming generation right?

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We begin our youth as left-wing idealists with little focus on self-enrichment. As we age, however, we become progressively right-wing – with a focus on individual goals. Today, people in generation Y are on the political right of where their parents and grandparents were as youngsters, representing a change in social ideals.

On the BBC Radio 4 programme Generation Right, broadcast on Monday evening, interviews with economists, political editors and marketing experts are combined with the thoughts of a small group of young sceptical people.

Where this scepticism is directed highlights the worrying trend in this generational shift. This is the most likely generation to have the least favourable view of the welfare state – where benefit claimants are the greatest drain on state resources and personal achievement is the highest priority.

This is not to suggest that, as a generation, those under 30 years of age are automatically right-wing; it is the shift in political views in comparison to the last generation and the one before them that is under observation.

On average, generation Y is now politically right-wing, but socially liberal. Race, sexuality and gender roles are no longer defining social priorities; individual choice and freedom is generally encouraged as we live in a more individualised society. Along with this freedom comes a greater sense of individual responsibility – which is reflected negatively on communal institutions like the NHS, and more generally, the welfare state.

The redistribution of wealth to the poorer echelons of society is no longer a priority of a once proudly welfare based nation. Talking to BBC Radio 4, Bobby Duffy, head of public affairs at market research specialists Ipsos-Mori, described the different context in which generation Y has grown up in.

“In terms of technology and culture, it’s a very different context generation y has grown up in”, he said. 

With an individualised outlook, the big theme of generation Y is a sense of personal responsibility, which seems more in tune with some conservative opinions.”    

He added, “That connection to the welfare state is much weaker, with a highly negative view on benefits. It is again connected to that sense of personal responsibility and because that generation has not had an awful lot of help, if you think of student loans, paying for tuition fees and the nature of the housing market, etc.”

Emphasis is also placed on school league tables and exams, which contributes towards a sense of competitiveness between peers. That’s according to the Economist’s political editor Jeremy Cliffe. This “[strengthens] that sense of individualistic drive”, he said.

The highly critical view that has been taken against benefits claimants in particular is a worryingly disproportionate one. TV shows like Channel 4’s Benefits Street influence negative opinions towards the socially disadvantaged – creating a sense of “we pay, they gain”.

This attitude was also taken towards the NHS from sixth-formers interviewed by the BBC. Those who are reliant on the health system because of self-induced damage should be forced to pay a fee – in particular heavy drinkers or obese people.

On the Radio 4 programme, Labour activist and blogger Emma Brunel placed a lack of political activism as the root cause to why young people feel so isolated and bitter towards the state. She said, “Young people have been hit hard. People are being squeezed at the very beginning of their lives, and it is cynical, but young people don’t vote.”

The idea of personal choice outweighing genuine need is an interesting observation. Generation Y is in fact the first generation to grow up with the internet and an enforced idea of social networking.

Ironically, the fundamental ideals of the internet, based on a ‘hive mind’ or large community-based interaction, have been undermined by individualistic tendencies – with selective, peer-to-peer networking.

Social media in particular has provided a platform for online personalities to be built, with groups or networks supporting that very image you choose to present. Although we are technically connected via a world wide web, we are in fact only choosing to engage with a tiny proportion of it.

Curating individuality, some argue, is actually a triumph of capitalism – where the greatest change in society is actually in consumer tendencies. Fraser Nelson from the Spectator said, “Greater individualism is bred from greater choice. Even down to what television you watch has changed. We now have people who do not even watch television, but watch Netflix or box sets – you no longer get conversations about EastEnders.”

How we choose to spend our free time increasingly defines who we are, which is a factor behind this change in social attitudes. We also live in a culture where we are defined by what we have.

Young people’s views today support socially progressive ideals, but are isolated by mainstream politics because the social pressure on generation Y to achieve individually undermines collective thought. If they felt more inclined to actively engage in political discussions, then abuses of power like the rising of tuition fees would have at the least sparked greater debate – with generation Y being taken far more seriously than it currently is.

Photo: bobaliciouslondon via flickr

Further reading: 

Youth climate lobby calls on MPs to give Britain ‘something to vote for’

Engaging our apathetic youth with politics will create a fairer democracy

Voting with your voice: why elections should be shaped by policies not parties

Political parties on the spot: how do we make our democracy sustainable?

The Guide to Sustainable Democracy 2014

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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