Last week, Unicef and Greta Thunberg launched a new report which estimates almost half the world’s 2.2 billion children are already at “extremely high risk” from the impacts of the climate crisis and pollution.
Nearly every child around the world was at risk from at least one of these impacts today, including heatwaves, floods, cyclones, disease, drought, and air pollution, the report said. But 1 billion children live in 33 countries facing three or four impacts simultaneously.
Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director, said: “For the first time, this report gives a complete picture of where and how children are vulnerable to climate change, and that picture is almost unimaginably dire. Virtually no child’s life will be unaffected.”
However the report said the impacts of the climate crisis were “deeply inequitable” and very likely to get worse.
“The top 10 countries that are at extremely high risk are only responsible for 0.5% of global emissions.”
The report found 920 million children are highly exposed to water scarcity, 820 million to heatwaves, and 600 million to vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, which are likely to get worse as suitable climate conditions for mosquitoes and pathogens spread.
“But there is still time to act,” said Fore. “Improving children’s access to essential services can significantly increase their ability to survive these climate hazards. Unicef urges governments and businesses to listen to children and prioritise actions that protect them from impacts, while accelerating work to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”