more than half of students declare themselves “eco-active”

Students during a youth climate march in Paris, March 8, 2019.

Young students, like the rest of the population, remain divided on questions of ecology: this is the observation drawn up by the National Student Consultation (CNE), a quantitative study carried out every three years, to which more than 14,000 students followed up between January and March. Nearly 8,000 complete responses were analyzed by the Student ociative Network for an Ecological and Solidarity Society (Reses), which found published a summary Thursday September 21 entitled “Ecology, solidarity: higher education facing student expectations”.

The study contains a bias, the authors wish to warn: the consultation affected a significant proportion of students from engineering schools and political studies institutes while university students are under-represented, which makes the The sample is not representative of the entire student population, even if the data has been adjusted to correspond as closely as possible to the parent population.

“This is mainly explained by the fact that the questionnaire was partly distributed by directly canving establishments”, specifies Reses, the involvement of the latter being variable, some going so far as to make the questionnaire obligatory, others not. Finally, socially, the CNE 2023 sample reached more scholarship students than their proportion in the overall student population (30.1% compared to 24.3%).

Three distinct groups

If 78% of respondents (compared to 50% in 2020) declare that they have voluntarily changed their consumption habits or are in the process of changing them so that they are more ecological and/or supportive, Reses notes that the image of a “climate generation” must be nuanced. Among the 70% who support the environmental cause, 16% are activists. “Conversely, 11% of students are indifferent, suspicious or opposed, or more than one in ten”underlines the report.

Reses distinguishes three very distinct groups: eco-actives (60%), non-actors (36%) and anti-ecologists (4%). In the first panel, made up of 58% women, a third have already gone on strike to take part in a climate march and a very large majority (86%) share the idea that ecological considerations should take precedence over Economic Growth.

In the second, more scattered group, students say they are either supportive (74%) or indifferent (16%) regarding environmental issues. They are also the most marked by concern (57%) and anxiety (14%) regarding the ecological crisis. Among them, Reses noted a higher percentage of Crous scholarship holders (30% compared to 24% on average), “which demonstrates a greater economic constraint than for eco-actives”.

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