Millennials and future generations will bear severe future financial costs if climate change goes unchecked, according to a new report. Analysis from the Demos and NextGen co-authored report, The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future, said millennials would lose $8.8 trillion. Future generations will also shed tens of trillions of dollars of wealth with no action.
NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer said climate change provides the largest lifetime hazard for a generation, which will affect wealth, income, and livelihoods of millennials.
Steyer also added that we the have moral right to act on climate change, so that future generations are not devastated.
A 21-year-old college graduate would, on average, lose $126,000 in income and $187,000 in wealth, according to the report. Forthcoming generations to come will see their finances harder hit. Children born from 2015 on who graduate college later will see lifetime income shrink by $467,000 and wealth drop by $764,000, on average.
All of these dramatic economic impacts will hamper Generation Y and future generations in making large-scale purchases (buying a house, investing for retirement, etc.), thanks to climate change impacts.
Demos President Heather McGhee added that millennials are the first generation to be worse off financially than earlier generations.
“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,” she said.
We are already seeing the impacts of climate change affect us through extreme weather events. In 2012, we saw the second-costliest year in extreme weather damages, with $110 billion in the US. Between 2011 and 2013, there were 32 separate $1 billion US extreme weather events.
However, renewable energy and clean technology have progressed, significantly, in that time. Global renewable energy investments in 2015 reached $367 billion, beating fossil fuel investments of $253 billion. The US solar market is expected to install 16 GW and grow by 119% by the end of 2016. Approximately 400,000 reservations have been made for the Tesla Model 3.
Meanwhile, millennials also want change to come from utilities. They are demanding more renewable energy and smart energy as the global economy adapts to digital technology and climate change.
The challenge now is for governments to move forward faster with the rapid deployment of clean energy and electric vehicles to avoid the worst financial impacts of climate change for people today, and for future generations to come.
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