Courtenay Cabot Venton
This post was co-authored with the Children in a Changing Climate coalition
The UN recently issued their latest report on climate change, and the findings are grim, suggesting that “climate change risks destabilizing human society“. US Secretary of State John Kerry commented: “Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice.”
A changing climate leads to changes in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather. Climate change and related disasters undermine poverty reduction efforts; for example, the Climate Vulnerability Monitor estimates the cost of not acting on climate change at 8.5 percent of GDP for developing countries, wiping out valuable investment in development gains.
Children are among the most likely to suffer from the impacts of these events. By the end of the decade, up to 175 million children are likely to be affected every year by the kinds of disasters brought about by climate change. This is an increase from an estimated 66.5 million children per year in the late 1990s. Children face heightened protection risks during disasters, including psychological distress, physical harm, trafficking, exploitation, child labour and gender-based violence.
And yet, many of the interventions that can reduce the vulnerability of children to climate change and disasters are some of the lowest cost options and are already well established, such as insecticide treated mosquito nets, and water, sanitation and hygiene training. A range of simple measures can help to reduce children’s vulnerability in the midst of a disaster, saving lives and reducing injuries, such as school safety drills, and access to basic health services in hazard prone areas.
Are we really still having these conversations? Surely it is time for all nations to commit to concerted action to combat climate change — our world depends on it.
The next year marks an important moment in international policy decisions, with several relevant frameworks being negotiated for adoption. In 2015, UN negotiations on climate change are anticipated to conclude with a new global framework. Parallel processes are taking place to negotiate a new framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as a successor framework to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), the international agreement to reduce disaster risk.