Why we should pay young people to go green

The Eco Experts

Our plan would kick-start a green revolution

Targeting young people would help fix generational wealth inequality

It’d cost £37 billion per year – £5 billion less than we spend on defence

Young people are the most scared of climate change, and the least able to tackle it.

The first part is rational, so let’s fix the second part, with a funding plan that will make the UK greener, cheaper, and fairer.

By focusing on young people, we can reduce hopelessness, cut generational wealth inequality, and increase the uptake of green technology – as well as enthusiasm for fighting climate change.

Here’s how we would do it.

family hugging on a sofa

Our proposal for paying young people to go green

We’re calling on the government to give targeted grants to young people and first-time homeowners that enable them to set up green lives for themselves.

Here’s how it would look for a typical three-bedroom household with two adults.


Cost per household

Electric vehicle discount


Free electric vehicle home charger


Heat pump discount


Free travel on public transport

£3,476 per year

Solar panel discount


Free loft/wall insulation


Why should we pay young people to go green?

We should pay young people to go green because they deserve the investment, they’ll appreciate it, and it would solidify their enthusiasm – changing our culture for the better.

It’s common sense that the best way to combat the climate crisis is to cut our national emissions as quickly as possible through a wholesale switch to green technology.

The fairest and fastest route to that goal is to ensure every young person – which for our purposes includes Gen Zers and Millennials, so anyone aged 40 and under – can build a green life without going bankrupt.

It’s one of the many long-term investments we must make to tackle climate change, and it’d also instantly – and significantly – reduce our national carbon footprint.

We’d lock young people into going green by showing it can work – which would, in turn, prove to all other generations that eco-friendly tools can help them slash their bills and emissions too.

Young people want to go green

Recent green initiatives like the Green Homes Grant and Boiler Upgrade Scheme have failed or suffered poor uptake, mainly because the government has promoted them poorly – but also because they weren’t targeted at young people.

Our recent National Home Energy Survey showed Gen Zers and Millennials are more inclined to go green, more anxious about climate change, and more likely to think the government should invest in green energy than other generations.

This is the age group that would pay between 32% and 39% more for a sustainable holiday experience, according to a Barclays survey.

We have to reward these admirable principles, both because it can kick-start a rapid transition to net-zero, and because you can’t buy an electric car with enthusiasm.

It’s a moral and financial imperative

We would create a greener future, while also lessening the UK’s crippling generational inequality – which is both the right thing to do, and wholly sensible.

Having entire generations who struggle financially makes no sense, helps no-one, and is happening before our eyes.

Wages have stagnated – with Millennials the first generation to earn less than the previous one – and house prices have soared over the past few decades, to a ridiculous, generation-ruining extent.

In 1997, a house cost the average full-time worker 3.5 times their salary. By 2021, they’d have to pay 9.1 times their salary, according to government data.

For someone with an average wage, this is the difference between paying £116,000 or £303,000 for the same house.

And despite recent wage rises across the UK, our inflation rate means the average wage fell by 2.6% in real terms from April 2021 to April 2022, just as the recession started.

Even when it comes to green grants, the majority favour homeowners, who are likely to be older than Gen Z-ers or Millennials.

80% of people aged 65 and over own their houses, whereas 47% of 25 to 34-year-olds do, according to government research.

That means most young people can’t access the Boiler Upgrade Scheme or the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4), while the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme is useless if they can’t afford an electric vehicle.

So while transport and residential emissions make up 41% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, our most impassioned generations of climate activists are unable to help in any meaningful way.

By levelling the playing field, we can finally give young people the ability to help us go green.

woman standing on a public transport vehicle

What would it involve?

We’re focusing on grants that tackle the sectors of UK society that release the most CO2 – transport and residential.

Targeted funding in these areas can make an enormous difference to millions of individual lives, and change our country forever along the way.

Free travel on public transport

Children and older people can already travel for free on public transport – so why not also give this ability to the people who need it most?

Firstly, it’d be a fantastic way to reduce the 107.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases – 25% of our national total – we emit through transport.

And the average commuter would save £1,738 per year through this scheme – which would allow more members of these embattled generations to actually afford big purchases like a house – and green technology.

Electric vehicle grants

Electric vehicles are a straightforward solution to the millions of tonnes of CO2 emitted every year on the roads, but they cost £26,965 on average – £11,515 more than a petrol car.

We’d propose cutting the cost of an electric vehicle for people under 40 by 50%, up to £10,000.

This would accelerate the growth of electric cars, cutting our carbon footprint and massively expanding an already thriving industry.

It’d also massively cut our reliance on other countries’ petrol, and increase younger generations’ spending money – especially as electric vehicles save the average driver £700 per year, compared to petrol cars.

First-time homeowner grants

With these increases in their disposable income, more young people will be able to afford to buy a home – and once they do, we should help them go green.

After all, our homes release 68.1 million tonnes of emissions per year – 16% of the UK’s total – and there’s no way to net zero without fixing this issue.

The first step is to offer young first-time home buyers 50% off the cost of solar panels, up to £3,000.

For the average household, this would reduce the cost of new panels to £2,700, cut energy bills by 53%, and create a break-even point of just 5.2 years, at current prices.

This home should also receive a heat pump grant of up to £10,000, meaning the average household will be able to buy one for free.

These two grants will give young people the gift of free, green heating and electricity – and the excess energy can go to the National Grid, lowering energy costs for everyone else.

We should also insulate UK homes, which are among the worst in Europe at holding onto heat, losing three times as much as German homes over a typical five-hour period.

The government’s negligence in this area over the past decade has been appalling, and it’s time to start making up for it by paying to insulate the loft or walls of each young first-time buyers’ home.

Each household with an electric vehicle should also receive a free home charger.

This would take the pressure off the government’s attempts to rapidly build a nationwide charging network, and make a real difference – unlike the half-baked Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme.

How would it benefit us?

These grants would save the country millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, and light the blue touchpaper on a genuine green revolution.

If we’re going to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 – which we must do to avert an even more catastrophic future than the one we’re facing now – we have to take bold steps.

Giving more disposable income to young people would help older generations too.

In 2021, 49% of first-time buyers received help from family members to afford their new home – a figure which would fall dramatically under this plan.

Gen Zers and Millennials would be able to fully interact with the economy, without the constant worry that they might run out of money.

Psychologically, this would create a better society, with less resentment, fear, and hopelessness.

How much would it cost?

Overall, these green grants would cost £37 billion per year – which is £5 billion less than we spend on defence.

The majority of this annual amount – £25.1 billion – would go towards making public transport free for all young people.

We predict that our electric vehicle grant would cost £8.3 billion, while the heat pump initiative would require a little over £2 billion.

Our grants for solar panels, insulation, and electric vehicle home chargers would set the government back a combined £1.5 billion per year.

Isn’t this plan unfair?

We’re not playing favourites by calling for such a large amount of funding to go to young people; we’re trying to redress an imbalance in resources that’s gone on for far too long.

Over the past few decades, the pandering towards Boomers – surely the luckiest generation in UK history – has been horrendously, cartoonishly over the top.

For instance, in 2021/22, the triple lock on state pensions cost the UK £7.9 billion more than if pensions had simply been increased in line with earnings since 2011/12, according to House of Commons library research.

This plan wouldn’t discriminate against anyone; it would simply help millions of young people who’ve been unfairly disadvantaged for decades.

This would empower them to keep fighting against climate change, and also help set them up for a better life – one that’s closer to what we all deserve.


Let’s encourage young people’s enthusiasm for going green, right a generational wrong, and create a permanent, unshakeable movement towards a green future.

Just 11% of Gen Zers and 13% of Millennials told a global Deloitte survey that their country’s government was highly committed to tackling climate change, and with good reason. It’s time for that to change.

Only a foolish leader leaves their best players on the sidelines for no reason – so put them in the game, and give them the tools to help.

It may be the only way to reach net-zero emissions and avoid the worst of this ongoing climate catastrophe.

Written by:
josh jackman
Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.
Back to Top