Climate change threatens lives of millions of children, says charity


Its report Feeling the Heat, which is launched today, claims that climate change is the biggest global health threat to children in the 21st century.

The charity predicts that 175 million children a year – equivalent to almost three times the population of Great Britain – will suffer the consequences of natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts and floods by 2030.

It warns that more than 900 million children in the next generation will be affected by water shortages and 160 million more children will be at risk of catching malaria – one of the biggest killers of children under five – as it spreads to new parts of the world.

Save the Children is urging world leaders to put children first during climate change negotiations in Barcelona this week, ahead of the Copenhagen summit in December.

Ultravox star Midge Ure, a Save the Children ambassador, recently returned to Ethiopia 25 years after the 1984 famine which prompted him to create Band Aid with Bob Geldof.

“Climate change is no longer a distant, futuristic scenario, but an immediate threat,” he said.

“We’ve all heard about the East African food crisis but I’ve been in Ethiopia seeing first hand the impact it’s having on children’s lives.

Erratic rainfall means farmers can no longer predict the weather and have lost their crops which are a vital source of food for their family.

“I asked one farmer in the highlands of Ethiopia what would happen if the food aid stopped coming. He replied: ‘It is in the hands of the gods.’ Maybe we could lend a hand as well?”

Save the Children’s director of policy David Mepham said: “Global leaders need to act now to stop the needless deaths of millions of children. It is still possible to avoid the worst predictions for climate change if governments are bold and commit to a binding international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when they meet in Copenhagen.”

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