Millennials and future generations will face staggering economic losses over their lifetimes due to climate change if current trends continue, according to a new report.
Without significant climate change action, a 21-year-old college graduate from the class of 2015 with median earnings could lose more than $126,000 in lifetime income and $187,000 in wealth as a result of environmental problems, the report found. A 21-year-old with median earnings but no college degree stands to lose $100,000 in income and $142,000 in wealth over a lifetime.
For the entire millennial generation, the total loss of lifetime income due to climate change could hit nearly $8.8 trillion, the study showed.
“Climate change may very well be the biggest threat ever faced over the lifetime of a single generation, impacting the incomes, wealth and livelihoods of millions of millennials,” NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer said in a statement. “We have a moral responsibility to act so that our children are not crushed by the costs of climate change.”
Children of millennials could take an even bigger economic hit.
Kids born in 2015 who graduate college and have median earnings are on track to lose $467,000 in income and $764,000 in wealth over a lifetime, according to the research. The estimated lifetime losses of income and wealth are $357,000 and $581,000, respectively, for children born in 2015 with future median earnings but no college degree.
“The fact is, unchecked climate change will impose heavy costs on millennials and subsequent generations, both directly in the form of reduced incomes and wealth, and indirectly through likely higher tax bills as extreme weather, rising sea levels, drought, heat-related health problems, and many other climate change-related problems take their toll on our society,” the report reads.
Demos and NextGen Climate note that the “lifetime economic losses caused by climate change compound the negative impacts of other economic challenges” already facing millennials, such as student debt and losses from the Great Recession.
The groups advocate for transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy U.S. economy by 2050.
“If we make this transition, in 2050 we will create up to 2 million new jobs, boost our economy by $290 billion, increase household disposable income by $650, and save families $41 billion on energy bills,” the report states.
Demos and NextGen Climate are urging young people to make their voices heard in the election.
“For the millennial generation, today’s status quo on climate and inequality is not only unjust but it is also unsustainable,” the report reads. “A powerful, principled, and deeply American way to change the status quo for young people, our country, and our planet is by demanding action at the ballot box. More than any previous generation, millennials have the power to chart a better course for themselves and for future generations–and that starts with voting for leaders who will make the right choices on the things that matter most, like climate change and inequality.”