Older people contribute less to global warming

Older people tend to spend more on their health, which generally produces lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. This also reduces the money they have to spend on other, more energy-intensive things, the study found.

“We expect age structure in the longer term to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,” Emilio Zagheni, who led the research at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, said.

Population factors heavily into greenhouse gas-emission projections, however, the influence of the age composition of a population is not included in calculations, like those used by the UN’s International Panel for Climate Change. This was part of the motivation for the research, Zagheni said.

The age of the US population is changing; the past four censuses have shown increasing numbers of Americans heading into the 65-and-older category. This segment of the global population is also growing.

Societies with growing elderly populations and consumption patterns similar to the US may see their carbon dioxide emissions drop, suggested the new research which was published in the journal Demography.

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