As every day brings us new stories of climate-related horror, there’s never been a better time to be old. Because the children are the ones who will grow up to face increasingly extreme and bizarre climate disasters in the decades ahead. Sure enough, UNICEF‘s first-ever Children’s Climate Risk Index shows that almost half of the world’s children fall into the extremely high-risk category for facing what UNICEF described in a tweet as “climate shocks.”
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Developing countries tend to have both more children and harsher climate impacts. The new report cited disease, drought, food shortages and extreme heat as some of the impacts these kids will face. The billion vulnerable children live in dozens of high-risk developing countries, including Nigeria, India and the Central African Republic.
“For the first time, we have a complete picture of where and how children are vulnerable to climate change, and that picture is almost unimaginably dire,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, in a statement.
For the study, UNICEF analyzed high-resolution maps showing climate impacts. It considered poverty, access to clean water and other factors that make children less likely to survive extreme weather events and other catastrophes.
But privileged children in more developed countries aren’t safe, either. The report concluded that nearly every child in the world is at risk for one or more types of climate-related impact, such as air pollution, flooding rivers and heatwaves. “Virtually no child’s life will be unaffected,” Fore said.
The report posits that kids should be included in policy discussions affecting their future, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow, Scotland this November. Leaders attending COP26 plan to strategize for global net-zero carbon emissions no later than 2050. “Children and young people need to be recognized as the rightful heirs of this planet that we all share,” Fore told The Guardian.
Via Common Dreams
Lead image via Pixabay