Saturday, November 7, 2009

Report: Children are already dying because of climate change

"Children are already dying because of climate change and without urgent action these deaths will increase," said Rudolph von Bernuth, Emergency Director for Save the Children. "Nearly nine million children die every year before their fifth birthdays from simple causes like diarrhoea and pneumonia. Climate change will make these threats worse. Climate change is a global emergency for children."

The charity organisation Save the Children Alliance launched a new report detailing the impact of climate change on children worldwide, but particularly in developing countries. The report 'Feeling the Heat - Child Survival in a Changing Climate (PDF)' was launched November 5 during the Barcelona Climate talks leading up to the COP15 Copenhagen Climate Treaty Conference in December 2009.

According to the report climate change will more than treble the number of people caught up in natural disasters in the next 20 years, with natural disasters more frequent and severe due to climate change. Climate change will exacerbate the leading causes of death of children, including diarrhea, malnutrition and malaria.

The percentage of the earth's land mass that suffers from severe drought conditions has trebled in the last 10 years from 1% to 3%. By 2020, this figure is predicted to be 8% and 30% by the end of the century.

"Children in developing countries are not responsible for climate change, yet they are hardest hit by it," said Alberto Soteres, CEO of Save the Children Spain. "It is the responsibility of rich nations, that have been emitting greenhouse gases for centuries, to help poor communities adapt to the effects of climate change."

The report calls on governments to strengthen health, water and sanitation systems in the poorest countries so that they are ready to cope with the effects of climate change. Developing countries must also draw up plans for climate change adaptation that include the particular needs of children. Finally the report said that National governments must sign a binding agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

"It is essential that the international community signs a strong and binding agreement in Copenhagen," said Alberto Soteres. "This should include significant funds from rich countries to help developing countries adapt to climate change. It is also vital that leaders in Copenhagen agree binding cuts to greenhouse gas emissions of 80% by 2050. Today's children will grow up into a world transformed by climate change. International leaders owe it to them to do everything possible to limit the dangers of this global threat."

The Save the Children Alliance have called for the following to be implemented:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. Rich countries must provide money to help poor communities to adapt to the climate change that is already happening. This must be delivered promptly and in addition to existing commitments to international development aid, not instead of it.

  • Child-centred disaster risk reduction (DRR) should be recognised as a corner stone of adaptation.

  • Children who move independently as a result of climate change need to be protected by national and international policies and legislation. Services must be introduced with a specific provision for migrant children.

  • Governments must sign up to a binding agreement in Copenhagen, December 2009, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, to keep global temperatures as far below 2ÂșC as possible.

The full report is available for Download from the Save the Children Alliance

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