How Climate Change Affects Children and Youth
“It is clear that a failure to address climate change is a failure to protect children.”
— David Bull, UNICEF UK Director
Issue in Brief
Climate change is a serious and real threat to children’s well being. In many areas of the world children’s lives are being disrupted by the shifts in temperatures and increasingly severe weather conditions. Today, they are few areas of the world that are not being impacted by climate change and these changes can also have a significant impact on a child’s ability to attend school. Very sadly severe climate changes may also support conditions that impact a child’s ability to survive.
In extreme conditions, changes in the climate may cause a dangerous decrease in water supplies or droughts that result in the tragic deaths of young and old. Climate changes, such as overly dry or wet seasons, may also encourage conditions that contribute to the expansion of deadly diseases such as malaria, which kills thousands of children every year.
Climate change can alter the resources available in communities by impacting food supplies and crops. This not only directly affects food availability for children and community members but it may also decrease their ability to trade goods with others creating economic instability in entire regions.
Even in less severe cases climate change can still affect a child’s ability to receive an education. All over the world changes in weather patterns that result in extreme conditions such as heavy snow fall, floods, storms and intense heat may force schools to change locations, to close or may significantly decrease the quality of the learning environment. Climate change is impacting children lives and it can seriously affect a child’s access to and participation in school.
- America's Children at an Environmental Crossroad, Childhood Education
Volume 84, No 4, P. 222 K
- Climate Change and Children
This free publication by UNICEF examines the effects of climate change on children – and examines how climate change has evolved from and 'environmental' issue into one that requires collective expertise in sustainable development, energy security, and the health and well-being of children. (December 2007, 20 pp.)
- Pediatrics, Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Global Climate Change and Children's Health
Published online October 29, 2007. Vol. 120 No. 5 November 2007, pp. 1149-1152 (doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2645)
- UNICEF: Climate Change and Children
(YouTube video, 4 min 14 sec)
Take Action on This Issue
- Place an article in your local newspapers and community newsletters.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspapers and community newsletters.
- Send published letters and articles to your member of Congress.
- Write or e-mail to your state legislators.
- Write or e-mail to you national legislators.
- Organize a community forum.