Kicking Climate Chaos: Children Face Critical Risks

Children facing unprecedented threats from climate and environmental disruptions that compromise their fundamental rights, including access to clean air, food, water, education, and protection from exploitation and even survival.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Children’s Climate Risk Index, approximately one billion children and adolescents are at “exceptionally high risk” of being affected by the climate crisis, with 55 million lacking water, 60 million exposed to tornadoes, 85 million at risk of Zika virus infection, and 105 million exposed to air pollution.

The climate crisis is not a distant threat; it is here to stay and will continue to devastate the world, leaving children on all continents at greater risk of more frequent and intense climate threats. For some, it is a reality that threatens their lives.

The report highlights the differences between countries that emit greenhouse gases and those where children are most affected by the impacts of climate change. In total, the 33 “very high-risk” countries emit only 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the 10 largest emitters are responsible for almost 70%.

Experts warn that responses generated by states through social protection systems and food aid programs are insufficient to alleviate the catastrophic consequences of the crisis that affects the countries of the region and particularly the threatened childhoods globally.

Despite the spectacular improvements in survival, nutrition, and education achieved in recent decades, the future of our children is currently uncertain. Climate change, environmental degradation, migration, conflict, widespread inequities, and aggressive trade practices threaten the health and future of children in all countries.

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The evidence is clear: the climate crisis is a childhood crisis. However, threatened children are systematically excluded from plans to respond to the climate crisis. Investing in the needs of children most affected by climate change is not a priority. Governments must commit to ambitious emissions reductions and ensure that adaptation is tailored to children at risk and is a key element of all climate plans.

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