World's 1 billion children at climate change risk: UNICEF reporttext_fields
New York: Nearly half of the world's child population is under threat due to the impact of climate crises; a UNICEF report pointed out and described the situation as "unimaginably dire", reports The Guardian.
The report said that almost all of the 2.2 billion children in the world were at risk from at least one climate impact like a heatwave, flood, cyclone, disease, drought, and air pollution. But one billion out of them, from 33 countries, including India, Nigeria, the Philippines and most of sub-Saharan Africa, are facing three or four impacts at the same time. According to the report, 920 million children are highly exposed to water scarcity, 820 million to heatwaves, and 600 million to infectious diseases such as malaria dengue fever, which are likely to worsen as climate conditions suit themselves to pathogens.
For the first time, the report combines high-resolution maps of climate and environmental impacts with those of child vulnerability such as poverty, access to clean water, healthcare, and education. It essentially shows the likelihood of a child's ability to survive climate change, according to Nick Rees, one of the authors of the report.
The report also said that the impacts of climate crises were inequitable and likely to get worse. Nick Rees added that the top countries at extreme risk are only responsible for 0.5 of global emissions.
UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said that the report provides a complete picture of where and how children are vulnerable to climate change for the first time. No child's life seems unaffected, she said.
She further said that children are particularly vulnerable to climate hazards. Also, they need more food and water per unit of body weight than adults and are less able to survive extreme weather events. She adds that young people should be included in all climate negotiations and decisions, including the UN Cop26 Glasgow summit in November. Children and young people needed to be recognised as the rightful heir of earth, she said.
Greta Thunberg, the youth climate activist, said that they are not just victims but also those leading the fight against the climate crisis. But the world is not taking it as an emergency, but green washing things. But millions of youngsters are there mobilising the movement, an essential step in the right direction. Thunberg further said that the UK government's claim that they reduced 40 per cent of emissions since 1990 is not valid. The emission is still there in aviation, shipping, outsourcing and imports and the burning of biomass. She said that they should stop talking and start acting. The UNICEF report was launched on the third anniversary of Thunberg's first school strike that sparked a global movement. Her global climate strike paused due to the pandemic, is set to resume on 24th September.
Zimbabwean climate activist Nkosilathi Nyathi said that heatwaves and floods interrupted his schooling and farming in his villages, making climate change personal. He said that young people are the world's precious natural resources.
Henrietta Fore also said that improving children's access to essential services will help as there is still time to act. UNICEF is urging governments and businesses to work for the children by protecting them from impacts and decelerating greenhouse emissions.