NextGen Climate, Demos Release New Report on the Costs of Climate Change to Millennials

New study outlines the crippling costs of climate change to millennials and their children

SAN FRANCISCO—NextGen Climate and public policy group Demos today released a new report that quantifies the economic costs of climate change to millennials and their children. The report, “The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future,” compares the climate cost to other significant economic burdens millennials will face over the course of their lifetime: student debt, child care cost, and slow job growth and stagnant wages.

The report finds that, left unaddressed, climate change will impose devastating costs on  millennials and future generations. Without action on climate change, a 21-year-old college graduate in the class of 2015 earning a median income will lose over $126,000 in lifetime income and $187,000 in wealth. In total, without bold climate action, the millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income and their children will lose tens of trillions.

“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,” said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. “We have a moral responsibility to act so that our children are not crushed by the costs of climate change.”

“Our generation has come of age amidst staggering inequality, and is the first to be worse off financially than our parents,” said Demos Action President Heather McGhee. “This report shows that rising sea levels rival rising student debt as an economic threat to millennials, and suggests why our generation overwhelmingly supports job creation through 100% clean energy.”

For the children of millennials, the losses from climate change will be drastically greater. A child born in 2015 who will graduate college will lose $467,000 in income over her lifetime, and $764,000 in wealth. The lost wealth and income will make it more difficult for millennials and their children to buy homes, send their children to college, and save for retirement.

The lifetime economic losses caused by climate change are substantially greater than the negative impacts of other economic challenges. Student debt costs the median-earning college-educated individual approximately $113,000 in lost wealth over a lifetime, due to reduced savings for retirement and homeownership. Losses from the Great Recession cost the median earning college-educated household $112,000.

Fortunately, by addressing this challenge and transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, the United States can grow its economy, create millions of jobs, and increase shared prosperity. However, to seize that opportunity we must transition as quickly as possible to a clean energy economy.

“When we look at the consequences of this election, the choice between the candidates could not be more stark—and the voice of millennial voters has never been more important. Climate change is a top voting issue for millennials, and this generation has the ability to transition our economy to clean energy,” said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. “Young voters have the power to shape this election and demand real solutions to our most urgent problems—but only if they vote.”

NextGen Climate has committed $25 million to engage, register, and turnout young people in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Illinois and Colorado this November. NextGen Climate will organize on more than 200 college campuses, and will use bold, creative campaign tactics to educate and turnout young voters. NextGen Climate has also formed a historic partnership—For our Future—with the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the AFT and NEA to mobilize working families on key progressive issues. In addition, NextGen Climate is partnership with SEIU on United We Can for a $10 million to build new organizing infrastructure using voter contact methods and canvassing strategies to reach voters in Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.