Older Persons’ Perceptions concerning Climate Activism and Pro-Environmental Behaviors: Results from a Qualitative Study of Diverse Population Groups of Older Israelis

Liat Ayalon, Natalie Ulitsa, Hanan AboJabel, Shelly Engdau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Older people are under-represented in the climate change movement yet are highly susceptible to the negative effects of climate change. This study’s objectives were to identify possible barriers faced by older persons to increase their pro-environmental behaviors and participation in the climate movement. Relying on in-depth qualitative interviews and focus groups with 50 older persons from four different population groups in Israel, we identified three themes. The first theme concerned assigning responsibility for the current climate situation. This theme addressed the question of who is seen as responsible for the current situation. The second theme covered actions taken by older persons to address the current situation. Finally, older persons view governments/municipalities, industry, and individuals as responsible for the changing climate, with a more traditional segment of the population also viewing God as responsible. Moreover, although governments were identified as important institutions with relevance to the current climate challenge, respondents mainly acknowledged the relevance of pro-environmental behaviors rather than climate change activism. In conclusion, the findings highlight the need to increase environmental activism among older persons. It is also important to increase the breadth of possible pro-environmental behaviors older persons can engage with.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16366
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF 217/20). The study was approved by the ethics committee of the PI’s university and all respondents signed an informed consent document prior to participating in this study. We recorded and transcribed all focus group discussions and in-person interviews. Interviews that were not conducted in Hebrew were translated by a native speaker into Hebrew. We used different recruitment and interviewing strategies for each population group given their unique characteristics. The different recruitment methods were also guided by the personal and professional connections of the researchers. We specifically ensured that minority group members are interviewed by interviewers from the same community in their language of preference. All respondents received information about the purpose of the study (e.g., to better understand older persons’ perceptions of climate change) and were instructed that they can leave the study at any point.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • activism
  • barriers
  • climate change
  • facilitators
  • older persons
  • pro-environmental
  • responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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