In 2050, more than 2 billion children will suffer from the consequences of climate change

A recently published UNICEF report reveals that 559 million children are currently exposed to frequent heat waves, and by 2050 all 2.02 billion children on the planet will be affected by the adverse consequences of climate change for their health and livelihoods.

The Fund calls, on the eve of the United Nations Climate Conference, the COP27 scheduled for November 7 to 18, 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, for an increase in funds allocated to adaptation in order to protect the youngest and the most vulnerable.

According to the UN agency, 624 million children are faced with one of the three other indicators specific to high heat: long-lasting, high-intensity heat waves or extremely high temperatures.

The UNICEF report points out that in just three decades, even at the lowest level of global warming, estimated at best at a warming of 1.7 degrees Celsius, the world’s 2.2 billion children will inevitably be more regularly exposed to heat waves.

According to UNICEF Chief Executive Catherine Russell, “The mercury is rising, with increasingly severe effects on children, and one in three children already lives in countries with extremely high temperatures, and nearly one in four children is exposed to frequent heat waves. But the situation will only get worse”.

“Over the next 30 years, more and more children will be hit by longer, more intense and more frequent heat waves, which will put their health and well-being at risk,” she added. .

Heat waves particularly harmful for the youngest

These heat waves are, who are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults and therefore incur more health risks such as asthma, chronic respiratory conditions and cardiovascular diseases.

Moreover, these heat waves have repercussions on the environment of children and can compromise their safety, their nutrition and their access to water, as well as their education and their long-term subsistence.

According to the report, a minimum global warming of 1.7 degrees Celsius would expose 1.6 billion children to long-lasting heat waves; this number would reach 1.9 billion if the temperature increased by 1.9 degrees by 2050.

Sharp increases in temperatures in the north of the planet in 2050

The prospective study reveals that children living in the north of the planet, particularly in Europe, will experience the sharpest increase in high-intensity heat waves, while by 2050 almost half of children living in Africa and Asia will be continuously exposed to extremely high temperatures.

While 23 countries currently rank first in terms of children’s exposure to extreme high temperatures, the number will increase to 33 in 2050 under a low emissions scenario and 36 under a hot scenario. very high emissions. In both cases, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, India and Pakistan are expected to have the highest number of affected children.

New call to world leaders

In this sense, Vanessa Nakate, climate activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, issued this warning: “Our planet is overheating, and yet world leaders are not reacting. We therefore have no choice but to put more pressure on them to rectify the path taken, and take the necessary measures as of COP27 in the interest of children around the world, but above all of most vulnerable who live in the most affected regions”.

The Unicef ​​report, she said, “clearly indicates that without urgent action, heat waves will become even more devastating than we already anticipate.”

For this reason, UNICEF advocates international mobilization aimed at adapting social services dedicated to children in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, health, education and nutrition, accompanied by increased screening for severe malnutrition for the youngest. Moreover, the authors of the report intend to place children and the respect of their rights at the heart of the decisions on adaptation that will be taken during COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

In their view, advanced countries must honor the commitment they made at COP26 to double funding for adaptation in order to reach at least 40 billion dollars per year by 2025, and this, with a view to devoting at least 300 billion dollars per year to adaptation measures by 2030. The funds allocated to adaptation must also represent half of all financing for climate action.

For UNICEF, “COP27 must advance negotiations on loss and damage, placing the resilience of children and their communities at the heart of discussions on the measures to be taken and the support to be provided”.

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