“The coldest year of the rest of their lives” report

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) recently released a report titled “The coldest year of the rest of their lives”.

Key findings

  • For the first time, the UNICEF provided estimates on how many children will be exposed to 4 measures of heatwaves (High heatwave frequency, High heatwave duration, High heatwave severity and Extreme high temperatures) by 2050.
  • The report made assessment based on “low greenhouse gas emission scenario” (1.7°C warming) and “very high greenhouse gas emission scenario” (2.4°C warming).
  • According to the report, climate change-induced heat waves will become an unavoidable hazard and affect every child on Earth.
  • Around 624 million children are currently exposed to one of the three other high heat measures (high heatwave duration, high heatwave duration, or extreme high temperatures).
  • Currently, at least 559 million children experience four to five dangerous heat waves each year. This figure is expected to surpass 2 billion by 2050 even if the global temperature is maintained at 1.7°C above the pre-industrial levels (low greenhouse gas emission scenario)
  • The report highlighted that children are more vulnerable to extreme heat events than adults.
  • Children in northern regions will experience the most dramatic increase in heat wave severity by 2050.
  • Nearly 50 per cent of children in Africa and Asia will be continuously exposed to extremely high temperatures.
  • These heat waves will make it difficult for young people to regulate their body temperature, making them vulnerable to health issues like chronic respiratory conditions, asthma, and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Extreme atmospheric heat can result in drought, which will cause hurdles in accessing clean drinking water and healthy food.
  • This, in turn, will result in the stunted development of children and force families to migrate.
  • To address these issues, the report recommends protecting children from climate crisis by adopting social services, preparing children to live in a climate-changed world, prioritizing children and young people in climate finance and resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and maintaining the temperature below 1.5°C.

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