Gen Z(ero)

Co-op Foundation and Co-op research into how we can create a pathway to a greener, fairer future

The Co-op Foundation, in collaboration with Co-op, commissioned research to explore young people’s views about the impact of the journey to Net Zero on their lives and how we deliver a greener, cleaner, fairer future

Read the full report.

What’s in the report 

This report presents insights from more than 1,000 young people, aged between 16 and 24, who were engaged through the research that took place between May and August 2023. Our research partners, Basis Social and Livity, ran a week-long online community with 44 young people from diverse backgrounds recruited from across the UK as well as conducting a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 young people. This study sought to involve young people who typically wouldn’t get involved in research. It adopted different approaches, from working with an influencer to help communicate information about Net Zero to the use of a chat-bot enabled survey. 

Key findings


  • The vast majority of young people (91%) believe their age group should be involved in decisions on how to reduce the UK’s emissions  
  • Over three quarters of young people (76%) are concerned about the UK meeting its Net Zero targets 
  • Most young people (72%) see the transition to Net Zero as an opportunity for their generation, but over half do not know how to get involved 
  • 73% of young people are concerned that the transition to Net Zero will widen the class divide 
  • 27% of young people want subsidies for lower income families to help navigate the transition to net zero 
  • 30% of young people want governmental support for climate initiatives 
  • Four in five young people (79%) think the government should do more to listen to people like them  
  • 47% of young people think there is a lack of education on the topic and 30% want more opportunities to hear about possible jobs and careers in Net Zero.  

Key recommendations 

Knowledge is power. Young people across communities are eager to know more about the UK’s Net Zero plans and a co-ordinated approach with both formal and informal education channels is needed. 

Policymakers need to be honest about the challenges and trade-offs while presenting the positives. Young people accept they have a role to play in supporting the pathway to Net Zero and they expect the policymakers to be transparent about the trade-offs and ensure solutions are equitable.   

Fairness is key. Policymakers need to find solutions that will allow everyone to play their part in reaching Net Zero with initiatives that will not disproportionately affect those who are less financially resilient. 

Government and business need to lead from the front. Government needs to work with businesses to look at ways to keep the costs of products down, enabling people to afford to make the necessary changes for meeting Net Zero. 

Politicians need to build young people’s trust in politics. Policymakers need to display genuine interest in young people’s viewpoints and offer a range of different ways for young people of all backgrounds to have their voices meaningfully heard. 

“I would like to see government reaching out more to young people. We understand this is going to impact our lives and we understand things need to change. You never know where the next breakthrough technology will come from and young people have lots of ideas to share, they are really creative and care about this issue.”  Young Person, 17, East Midlands

The Co-op Foundation has committed to investing in young people, leaders, innovators, co-operators, and activists, including those with a vision and ideas to create sustainable communities. We are currently developing our first funding to individuals, to support young people in bringing their ideas to life. 

Looking to get involved?

There are a wealth of resources available online if you’re looking to understand the climate crisis, the transition to Net Zero, and the part we can all play. Here’s a starter for 10: 

Subscribe to our blog to find out about future funding supporting young people to create sustainable communities.