Climate change is affecting more and more people around the world. But if there is anyone who will suffer more and more from the consequences of global warming, it is children, especially those living in extreme poverty.

Millions of children currently live in areas that are highly exposed to the effects of climate change. More than 500 million are located in places highly prone to flooding and about 160 million live in countries where droughts are increasingly common.

At UNICEF we are very concerned about the impact that climate change may have on the children of today and tomorrow. That is why we have launched the report Unless We Act Now, in which we point out the importance of taking decisions in the face of the Paris Climate Change Summit (COP21).

Changes in climate will intensify droughts, floods and heat waves which, in turn, increase the spread of the worst enemies of child survival such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea.

“The high numbers underscore the need for urgent action,” says Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s executive director. “Today’s children are least responsible for climate change but it is they and their children who will have to live with its consequences. And, as is often the case, the most disadvantaged communities face the greatest threats.

Paris Summit: An Opportunity to Curb Climate Change

World leaders have an opportunity to slow down climate change and its consequences on the planet. The Paris Summit is the time to reach an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of the problem, and to promote clean and sustainable energy.

The more ambitious the actions to curb global warming, the more children will escape its terrible effects. However, an action plan must also be established to deal with the consequences of the carbon dioxide emissions that have already occurred.

“We know what needs to be done to prevent the devastation that climate change can cause. Not acting would be unacceptable,” says Lake. “We owe it to our children and our planet.

Climate change will worsen the consequences of El Niño

El Niño, a weather phenomenon that occurs periodically and has a direct impact on the weather in the rest of the world, is not a product of climate change. However, global warming will aggravate the effects of this phenomenon, which is expected to be devastating this year.

In the coming months and years, humanitarian crises will be exacerbated by the aggravation of cyclones, hurricanes, droughts and other El Niño-related phenomena. That is why it is necessary to act quickly. The longer we wait, the more complicated it will be to respond to future emergencies.