Younger generations are prioritizing climate change as a political issue regardless of political affiliation, despite the fact that older generations have always considered it “second-tier.” Millennials are not only hearing and learning more about the impacts of climate change – they are feeling its consequences in their everyday lives. They view climate change as an indisputable fact that’s in drastic need of a political solution because it’s their generation that will pay the price of inaction.
By the Numbers:
- 70% of Americans age 18 to 34 worry about global warming. This compares with 62% of the 35-54 age bracket and 56% of those who are 55 or older.
- Voters ages 17-35 (Gen Z and Millennials) viewed the environment (39%) and human rights (38%) as the most important international issues for the United States to address in 2018.
- Adults under age 35 are typically much more engaged on environmental issues than those 55 and older.
Bearing the Burden: Millennials have grown up learning about climate change and also experiencing its effects and will likely continue to do so for the rest of their lives. But climate change costs Millennials more than a changing environment: failure to take action against climate change will result in a loss of $100, 000 in lifetime income and a loss in $142,000 in wealth for graduating Millennials. This generation will also have to pay for the climate crisis with their tax dollars:
- In 2016, extreme weather cost U.S. taxpayers over $10 billion
- In Pennsylvania and Ohio, pollution from coal- and gas-burning power plants is estimated to have caused 4,400 deaths and $38 billion in health costs in 2015 alone
Not Just Democrats: This age divide also transcends this country’s partisan divide: 57% of Republican and Republican-leaning Millennials believe that there is “solid evidence” of climate change compared to the majority of GOP Baby Boomers and members of the pre-boomer “Silent Generation” who do not accept that there is solid evidence.
Why This Matters: The damages done to the environment over the past century have led to generational inequality, where younger and future generations are bearing a disproportionate share of the economic and social costs of climate change. Millennials are less defined by their respective political parties than previous generations and are more united in their common cause of creating a better world for them and future generations.