Key Findings

This report quantifies the cost of climate change to millennials and their children, compared to a world without climate change. The climate change 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. The key findings of this analysis include:

  • 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.*
  • Without action on climate change, a 21-year-old earning a median income will lose $100,000 in lifetime income, and $142,000 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 who will graduate college will lose $467,000 in income over her lifetime, and $764,000 in wealth.
  • Without action on climate change, the millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income.
  • The economic losses caused by climate change are substantially greater than the damages 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.

We must act quickly to address climate change because the impacts are occurring now faster and stronger than predicted:

  • June 2016 was the 14th 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.

We must 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 International4, transition to a clean energy economy will:

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

* We calculate wealth as long-term savings if lost income due to climate change were to be invested in a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds returning 3.5 percent annually.

Read the full report for more information