ICYMI: Climate Change Is Seriously Impacting the Financial Future of Millennials

By Yessenia Funes Aug 25, 2016

When environmentalists speak of climate change, they often talk of “future generations.” But generations already here are poised to suffer long-term consequences. Climate change will affect millenials drastically—including in their wallets.

NextGen Climate and Demos, two organizations dedicated to policy, published a report August 22 that found when compared to a world without climate change, millennials will lose $100,000 in lifetime income and $142,000 in wealth because of additional tax burdens from extreme weather, pollution-related health costs and the current U.S. economy, which is still recovering from the Great Recession.

These reasons are compounded by other economic stresses such as student debt, childcare and stagnant wages. “Millennials are facing the stingiest economy in three generations, and the most unequal economy in more than a century,” the report says.

Key highlights from the report:

  • Twenty-one-year-olds earning a median income—with or without a college degree—in 2015 will lose more than $140,000 in wealth by missing out on income they could be saving and gaining interest on: $100,000 for non-college graduates and $126,000 for graduates, or 5.5 percent of their lifetime income.
  • The millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income.
  • Future generations (as in millennial’s siblings or offspring) fare even worse: A child born in 2015 who graduates from college will lose $467,00 in lifetime income at $764,000 in wealth.

An obvious economic fix would be transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy economy, which, as the report claims, would create up to two million jobs, increase household disposable income by $650 and save families $41 billion on energy bills. With current clean energy generation, including solar, wind, hydropower and other renewables, at only approximately 13 percent, the United States has a long way to go.

For communities of color, which are often closest to toxic oil refineries and wells tied to the fossil fuel industry, a transition would also improve health.