Born into the Climate Crisis

Children in the Philippines face life with far more scorching heatwaves, floods, droughts than grandparents

Type: Story

Children born in 2020 in the Philippines will live through 4.9 times more scorching heatwaves, 2.3 times more river floods, 1.2 times more droughts and 1.5 times more crop failures than their grandparents or people born 60 years ago.

Children in East Asia and the Pacific over the past year will face eight times more scorching heatwaves during their lives than their grandparents, according to new research released today by Save the Children.

The outlook is similarly bleak for South Asia, where children will live through 3.6 times as many crop failures as their grandparents. In Nepal, children will see 6 times as many crop failures.

Children in poorer communities will be worst affected, as they are already at a far greater risk of battling waterborne diseases, hunger and even facing death due to malnutrition, increased floods and cyclones, Save the Children said.

Moreover, these climate impacts risk trapping millions more children into long-term poverty.

The data is part of the organization’s new report Born Into The Climate Crisis – why we must act now to secure children’s rights, which outlines the devastating impact of the climate crisis on children if urgent action is not taken.

Under current pledges, children born in 2020 will face 7% more wildfires, 26% more crop failures, 31% more droughts, 30% more river floods, and 65% more heatwaves than if global warming were stopped at 1.5°C.

Save the Children emphasized that there is still time to turn this bleak future around. If the rise is kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees, the intergenerational burden on newborns is cut by 45% for heatwaves; by 39% for droughts; by 38% for river floods; by 28% for crop failures, and by 10% for wildfires.

Chatten Abrera, 16, was just 8 years old when his home in the Philippines was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded which devastated the country in 2013. Seeing the impacts of climate change first hand inspired Chatten to become a climate activist, and he now campaigns with Save the Children. He said:

"I've seen the effects of climate change with my own eyes. Typhoon Haiyan destroyed thousands of homes where I live and left many of my friends, relatives, classmates and other people homeless. Even before that, we were already experiencing a lot of climate-related disasters in my region, and each year it gets worse. In recent years we’ve had drought, extreme heat waves and landslides caused by heavy rains. The months that are supposed to be sunny have become rainy, and the months that are supposed to be rainy are sunny.

“To think that children born today will live through even more cyclones, heatwaves and other disasters than our grandparents make me feel sad. Children have contributed least to the climate crisis and yet we're the ones who will suffer the most."

For Born Into The Climate Crisis, Save the Children worked with an international team of climate researchers led by the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, which calculated the impact of a range of extreme climate-related events on children born in 2020 compared to people born in 1960.

The findings painted a harrowing picture of devastating wildfires, river floods, droughts, crop failures and suffocating heatwaves for this and future generations.

“Our report shows the horrific reality for this generation. If we remain complacent, we are guilty of handing over this catastrophic future to Filipino children who are among the most affected by the climate crisis,” said Albert Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines.

The child rights organization is running the Red Alert Campaign which is calling for an increase of climate financing so vulnerable communities can prepare for crises, with specific criteria to ensure child-centred investments, and to support poorer countries manage unavoidable impacts.

Muyot continued: “We are raising the Red Alert on climate crisis. Without a sustainable and healthy future, children’s right to survive is put at risk. We can turn this around – but we need to listen to children and jump into action. The government should ensure effective implementation of environment policies and scale up social protection systems to mitigate the increasing impacts of climate shocks on children and their families.”

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