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Children to Be the Worst Hit By Climate Change – The Lancet Countdown Report 2019

As per the new reports released by ‘The Lancet’, a child born today will face lifelong health impacts of climate change. By the time he/she turns 71, the world is touted to be warmer by a whopping 4 degree Celsius, with respect to the pre-industrial levels of the mid-1700s.

The report further states that, Indian children who are already exposed to uncontrollable amount of polluted air are specifically more susceptible to malnutrition and infectious disease. They are to experience greater impact of climate change in coming years.

Following are some of the ways in which Climate change will impact the lives of Children from infancy to old age as mentioned in the report published in the ‘The Lancet’, a medical journal:

  • Diminishing average yield of staple crops like rice and wheat will inflate the prices, thus contributing to already persisting higher levels of malnutrition among the Indian children.
  • Infections from diarrhoea and vector-borne diseases to which children are generally susceptible will see a high surge accompanying the changing weather patterns.
  • Air pollution will worsen, increasing the number of deaths attributable to fine particulates.
  • Incidence of severe floods, prolonged droughts and wildfires will increase with rising temperature, putting lives at risk.

Children are particularly very much vulnerable to health risks of a changing climate. Their bodies and immune system are still developing, leaving them more susceptible to disease and environmental pollutants. The damage done in early childhood is persistent and pervasive with health consequences lasting for a lifetime.

The biggest possible measure World Leaders can take is adhering to the Paris Climate Agreement dedicatedly. Even to meet the goals of the Agreement and protect health of the next generation, the energy landscape has to be changed drastically and that also very soon. Countries have to try and limit global warming to 2 degree Celsius by intensifying efforts to decrease carbon emissions through Nationally Determined Commitment (NDCs) under the Climate Agreement.

The report states that nothing short of a 7.4% year-on-year cut on fossils, carbon emissions between 2019 and 2050 will limit global warming to the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degree Celsius.

“The Climate crisis is one of the greatest threats to the health of humanity today, but the world has yet to see a response from the Government that matches the unprecedented scale of the challenge facing the next generation”- said Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the ‘The Lancet’. With the full force of the Paris Climate Agreement due to be implemented in 2020, we cannot afford this level of disengagement. The clinical, global health and research community needs to come together now and challenge our international leaders to protect the imminent threat to childhood and lifelong health, he further added.

About ‘The Lancet Countdown’ Report:
The Lancet Countdown, which launched its first edition in 2016, is a comprehensive yearly analysis that tracks progress across 41 key indicators, demonstrating the health impacts of climate change.

It works to ensure that health is at the centre of how governments understand and respond to climate change. Their work ranges from ensuring policymakers have access to high-quality evidence-based guidance, through to providing the health profession with the tools they need to improve public health.

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