The Price Tag of Being Young

Climate change will have profound effects on millennials’ economic future, according to a new report by NextGen Climate, a San Francisco-based environmental advocacy organization, and Demos, a public policy organization that focuses on reducing political and economic inequality. The report quantifies the cost of climate change to millennials and their children, compared to a world without climate change. The costs are compared to other significant economic burdens millennials will face over the course of their lifetime, including student debt, child care, stagnant wages, and the lack of good jobs. Key findings of this analysis include:

  • Without action on climate change, a 21-year-old in the class of 2015 earning a median income will lose $126,000 in lifetime income, and $187,000 in wealth.
  • For the children of millennials, the losses from climate change will be drastically greater. A child born in 2015 with median earnings will lose $357,000 in lifetime income and $581,000 in wealth. A child born in 2015 with median earnings and a college degree will lose $467,000 in lifetime income, and $764,000 in wealth.

According to the report, we must act quickly to address climate change because the impacts are occurring now faster and stronger than predicted. July 2016 was the 15th straight month of record-breaking heat. The 21st century has seen 15 of the 16 hottest years on record. For the eighth consecutive year, extreme weather has cost U.S. taxpayers over $10 billion. Sea levels are rising and in Miami, Norfolk, and other coastal cities, tidal flooding is becoming the norm—even on days without storms. Drier and longer droughts are threatening our public health and crops.

The report’s authors advocate a transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy in order to avoid the devastating economic impacts of climate change detailed in this report. And we must capitalize on the significant economic driver clean energy can be for the U.S. economy. According to a recent study from ICF International, if we transition to a clean energy economy by 2050, in that year we will:

  • Create up to 2 million new jobs
  • Boost our economy by $290 billion
  • Increase household disposible income by $650
  • Save families $41 billion on energy bills

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