UK children urge action to secure their future 

Children growing up in the UK and across the globe today will bear the full brunt of climate change, UNICEF UK warned today, as it releases a new climate change report showing the extent that children want the issue tackled. 

In UNICEF UK’s report, issued ahead of the forthcoming findings from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the leading children’s organisation stressed that climate change is the one of the most pressing concerns facing children right now. The legacy of climate change is no longer a distant projection, but will be felt by children born this year and beyond. A child born in 2013 will be 17 in 2030 and 37 in 2050, when the worst impacts of climate change will begin to be felt.

The UNICEF UK report draws on five years of research and collates perspectives of young people from all over the world, including the UK and sets out the current and expected impacts of climate change on it’s most vulnerable victims - children.

Included in the report is polling carried out by UNICEF UK and Ipsos MORI which shows that climate change concerns are most acute amongst the younger generation, with almost three-quarters of 11-16 year-olds in the UK worried about how climate change will affect their future and wished the government would do more to tackle it. The polling also revealed that:

- Nearly two-thirds of British children said they were worried about how climate change will affect children in developing countries; 
- More than half of parents and grandparents (56%) are worried about how climate change will affect their children or grandchildren;
- 60% of the adults polled agreed that the government should take more action on this devastating global issue.

David Bull, UNICEF UK Executive Director, says: 

“What children are grasping - unlike many of their adult counterparts - is that climate change is no longer a distant or abstract issue. Instead it is already impacting on children's lives across the world and will dramatically affect the future of children growing up today as well as the next generation. Our own children will carry the burden of our delays and inaction, which is why the majority are calling for decisive action on this destructive issue now.” 

The report reveals why children’s voices must be heard by highlighting the current and future impacts of climate change on their lives, including on their health, education and subsistence: 
- Some 700 million children live in the 10 counties most vulnerable to climate change – Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, Nepal, Mozambique, Philippines, Haiti, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar;  
- 90 percent of the existing burden of disease due to climate change occurs in children less than five years old; 
- Climate change is expected to increase the major killers of children such as malaria, diarrhea, hunger and malnutrition and so undermine the strides made in reducing child mortality; 
- It is estimated that by 2050, 25 million more children will be malnourished as a result of climate change. 

Impacts will also be felt by the UK’s children:
- Extreme heat is set to become an even greater risk to babies and elderly people by 2020. 2,000 people died in the UK due to extreme heat, this is projected to increase by 70 per cent by 2020, just seven years away; 
- A huge economic burden will encumber today’s children in the UK and beyond. In the last 10 years, climate-related disasters have led to global economic losses of £1.3 trillion; 
- By 2030, the global economic losses from floods, storms and landslides will reach £122 billion a year;
- Today’s children, as adults, are likely to have to pay higher taxes to subsidise the costs of climate change.

Bull continued: “We are hurtling towards a future where the gains being made for the world’s children are threatened and their health, wellbeing, livelihoods and survival are compromised. Children will be most vulnerable to the catastrophic impacts of climate change, despite being least responsible for the causes. We need to listen to them and help them secure a future where they can survive and thrive.”

UNICEF UK is calling on the UK government to champion a legally binding treaty to reduce emissions, mobilise its share of the annual $100bn of additional climate finance needed globally to help developing countries to adapt and to involve children in the development of climate policies, given that their futures will be directly affected by the climate change decisions made by adults today.    



Notes for editors:
For more information please contact Rowena Campbell on  +44 (0)207 375 6206 / +44 (0)207 375 6030 or

UNICEF UK Climate Change report
The report draws on five years of UNICEF research and collates perspectives of young people from all over the world at international, national and regional level, accompanied by key statistics and analysis of the current and expected impacts of climate change on children.

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, working in over 190 countries to help every child realise their full potential. We work with partners to transform the lives of children everywhere. 
UNICEF provides health care, water, nutrition, education and protection for children. The most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are our priority. As champion of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we work to protect and promote the rights of every child.  UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit