Two-weeks before the climate change conference in Paris, UNICEF released a report titled "Unless We Act Now" detailing how millions of children worldwide are at risk from climate change.
Approximately 530 million live in flood-prone areas, most of which are found in Asia. Over 300 million of these children live in countries where over half of the population is poverty-stricken. On the other side of the world, about 160 million children belong to are areas suffering from extreme drought, with more than half found in Africa. Around 115 million live in areas where the risks of tropical cyclones are very high.
Several countries already submitted their national plans to help keep the global warming levels to 2 degrees Celsius. The limit has been set to avoid the dire and the damaging consequences of unchecked global warming activities. However, experts fear that the national plans submitted for discussion during the climate change conference in Paris won't be enough to meet the goal.
"We know what has to be done to prevent the devastation climate change can inflict. Failing to act would be unconscionable," said Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF.
Scientific forecasts in the UNICEF report (PDF) showed that the number of children who will be saved from climate change increases with climate change plans' level of intensity. The report stressed that the presence of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere should be addressed. Children around the world are already being affected by the amount of CO2 emitted. The agency stressed the need to make children around the world as strong as possible to battle such damage.
Worsening weather conditions affect the children through the cause of diseases including diarrhea and malaria. The increasing rate of malnutrition during severe weather conditions also cause much harm. Children who are deprived of sanitation and enough clean drinking water are less likely to bounce back from a crisis-related illnesses. This causes a vicious cycle that increases the children's risks of being affected heavily when faced with succeeding predicaments.
"Children will bear the brunt of climate change. They are already bearing a lot of the impact," said Nicholas Rees, UNICEF policy specialist and one of the report's authors.