Climate change has a huge impact on everyone's life, but it is important to remember that it is mainly the youngest who pay the highest price. This is the theme of the new UNICEF report The coldest year of the rest of their lives. Protecting children from the escalating impacts of heatwaves, 559 million children are exposed to a high frequency of heatwaves, while 624 million are exposed to one of three other overheating conditions: high duration of the heatwave, high severity of the heatwave or extremely high temperatures.
The report highlights the consequences of heatwaves on children and observes that, even if lower levels of global warming are maintained, in just 30 years, more frequent heatwaves will be unavoidable for young children worldwide.
The report estimates that by 2050, all of the world's 2.02 billion children will be exposed to a higher frequency of heatwaves, regardless of whether the world reaches a "low greenhouse gas scenario" with an estimated warming of 1.7 degrees in 2050 or a "very high greenhouse gas scenario" with an estimated warming of 2.4 degrees in 2050.
The data show that the duration of high heat waves currently affects 538 million (or 23%) of children globally. This high number will rise to 1.6 billion children in 2050 with a warming of 1.7 degrees and to 1.9 billion with a warming of 2.4 degrees. This is why the report emphasised the importance of urgent and dramatic emission reduction and adaptation measures to contain global warming and protect human life.
The document is available on the UNICEF website in the dedicated news item.
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