How many weather disasters will children face today? Scientists estimate

  How many weather disasters will children face today?  Scientists estimate

Those in low- and middle-income countries will bear the brunt, with Afghan children likely to endure up to 18 times as many heat waves as their elders, and children in Mali likely to live through up to 10 times more crop failures.

“I’m worried about climate change, about my future. It will almost be impossible for us to survive,” she told journalists.

Save the Children did not fully identify Anuska and others who spoke alongside her for protection reasons, it said.

A child sits on a makeshift raft on a flooded road following heavy rainfall in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, on July 22, 2021. People in low- and middle-income countries will bear the brunt of climate impacts, the study found. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Story Highlights

  • Children will, on average, suffer seven times more heat waves and nearly three times more droughts, floods and crop failures due to fast-accelerating climate change, found a report from aid agency Save the Children.

  • “People are suffering, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye… Climate change is the biggest crisis of this era,” said Anuska, 15, sharing her experience of more heat waves, intense rain and crop losses in her country, Nepal.

The research, a collaboration between Save the Children and climate researchers at Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit Brussel, calculated the lifetime exposure to a range of extreme climate events for children born in 2020 compared to those born in 1960.

On course for at least 2.6 C rise

Also published in the journal Science, the study is based on emissions reduction pledges made under the 2015 Paris climate accord, projecting that global temperatures will rise by an estimated 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times. This would have an “unacceptable impact on children,” Save the Children said.

“The climate crisis is a child rights crisis at its core,” said Inger Ashing, chief executive of Save the Children. “We can turn this around — but we need to listen to children and jump into action. If warming is limited to 1.5 degrees, there is far more hope of a bright future for children who haven’t even been born yet.” A boy runs at the bottom of a branch of the Lago Seco, which receives water from the Amazon River, in the city of Manaus, Brazil, in 2015. A severe drought had pushed river levels in Brazil’s Amazon region to lows, leaving isolated communities dependent on emergency aid and thousands of boats stranded on parched riverbeds. (Bruno Kelly/Reuters)

The UN climate science panel warned in August that global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control and will bring climate disruption globally for decades to come. National pledges to cut emissions so far are inadequate to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 C above preindustrial times, and ideally to 1.5 C, as about 195 countries committed to under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“This is what’s at stake when governments head to the COP26 global climate talks in Glasgow in November. These children’s lives and future are all at stake,” said Erin Ryan, a report author and Save the Children adviser. WATCH | How teen activists are demanding adults’ attention:

Save the Children’s report found that, if global warming is kept to 1.5C, additional lifetime exposure of newborns to heat waves would drop by 45 per cent and by nearly 40 per cent for droughts and floods compared with the current projected level. 1.5 C warming limit could make huge difference