With climate change, more than two billion children will experience more frequent heat waves by 2050. Heat waves are especially harmful to children, as they have less ability to regulate their body temperature compared to adults.
For this reason, Catherine Russell, the head of UNICEF, calls on governments to urgently limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Some 560 million children are exposed to continuous heat waves and 624 million are prone to at least one of three indicators of extreme heat, which are the long duration of those waves, their acute intensity or extremely high temperatures, according to a new UNICEF research.
In a year marked by constant heat waves that affected both hemispheres of the planet, the analysis highlights the increasing repercussions that heat waves have on children and reveals that, even if the level of global warming is reduced, in In just three decades it will inevitably be that children around the world will experience more frequent heat waves.
The report estimates that by 2050, the planet’s 2.02 billion children will experience more frequent heat waves, even if low greenhouse gas emissions are achieved, leading to an estimated warming of 1.7 degrees Celsius. , as if a scenario of very high emissions occurs, which would lead to a warming of 2.4 degrees Celsius.
These results underscore the urgent need to adapt the services on which children depend in the face of the inevitable impacts of global warming. They also highlight the need to support continued mitigation of the effects of heat waves and increased temperature extremes.
Children playing with the spout of a repaired water pump in a camp for displaced people in Ibb, Yemen. (Photo: UNICEF/Gabreez)
“The temperature continues to rise and so do its repercussions on children”, affirmed the executive director of UNICEF, who highlighted that “one in three children currently lives in countries with extremely high temperatures, and almost one in four is exposed to the increase in the frequency of heat waves, a situation that is likely to get worse.”
Catherine Russell predicted that “longer, hotter and more frequent heat waves will affect more children over the next thirty years, threatening their health and well-being,” and that “how destructive these changes will be will depend on what action we take now.” ”.
Russell explained that, at a minimum, governments must urgently limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and double funding for climate adaptation by 2025.
The dog days, a danger to the health of children
From UNICEF, they point out that heat waves are especially harmful to children, since they have a lower ability to regulate their body temperature compared to adults.
Therefore, the more heat waves they experience, the greater the probability that they will suffer from problems such as chronic respiratory conditions, asthma and cardiovascular diseases. A situation that especially affects babies and young children, who are at greatest risk of dying from heat.
Other aspects in which the heatwaves can influence children’s environment are their safety, nutrition and access to water, as well as their education and future livelihoods.
More than 1 billion children affected in 2050?
The report reveals that long-lasting heat waves affect more than 500 million children worldwide, a figure that could grow to 1.6 billion by 2050 if warming is 1.7 degrees Celsius, and 1.9 billion of children if warming is 2.4 degrees Celsius, underlining the importance of taking urgent and drastic measures to mitigate and adapt to polluting emissions in order to contain global warming and protect lives.
While the most dramatic increases in the intensity of heat waves will occur in northern regions, especially Europe, by 2050 it is estimated that about half of children in Africa and Asia will be constantly exposed to extremely high temperatures .
Although the number of countries with the highest level of childhood exposure to extremely high temperatures is currently estimated at 23, this number will increase to 33 countries by mid-century in the event of a low emission framework and to 36 countries in the case of an environment with low emissions. very high emissions.
Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan are some of the countries likely to remain in the highest category in the event of both scenarios.
The climate activist and Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, Vanessa Nakate, recalled that the climate crises we are experiencing serve as a serious warning of the danger that hangs over humanity.
“As hot as this year has been in almost every corner of the world, it will probably be the coldest year of the rest of our lives. The thermometer is rising on our planet, and yet world leaders have yet to break a sweat. The only option is that we continue to put pressure on them to correct the course we are on, ”he stressed.
Nakate called on world leaders to work on the necessary measures to protect children around the world from heat waves during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) “but especially those who are most vulnerable and who They are in the most affected places.
How to protect children from heat waves?
UNICEF calls on governments to:
-Protect children from climate devastation by adapting the most important social services, such as water, sanitation, hygiene, health, education, nutrition, social protection and child protection. This requires strengthening food systems to resist threats and ensure continued access to healthy food; invest in early prevention, detection and treatment of severe malnutrition in children, mothers and vulnerable populations, prioritize children and their rights when making adaptation decisions.
-Preparing all girls and boys to live in a world with a new climate situation by providing them with education on climate change, disaster risk reduction, green skills training and opportunities to participate and influence policy-making . In addition, COP27 should urge countries to endorse the Climate Empowerment Action Plan and pay more attention to climate education and empowerment of children and implement their earlier commitments to fostering the ability of young people.
-Prioritize children and youth when allocating climate-related finance and resources. Developed countries must honor the commitment they made at COP26 to double funding for adaptation to at least $40 billion a year by 2025, with the ultimate goal of spending $300 billion a year on adaptation by 2030. Dollars. Adaptation finance should account for half of all funds earmarked for climate change. COP27 must break the political deadlock in relation to damages, and for this it will have to center the debates about initiatives and aid around the resilience of children and their communities.
-Prevent climate catastrophe by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Emissions are expected to increase by 14% over this decade, putting us on a path of catastrophic global warming. All governments must review their national climate plans and policies with a view to increasing both their actions and their mitigation ambition. They must also reduce emissions by at least 45% in order to prevent warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius. (Font: UN News)