Climate Change Is a Grave Threat to Children’s Survival

Right now, in the U.S. and around the world, children's lives are under threat due to climate change. Nearly 710 million children are currently living in countries at the highest risk of suffering the impact of the climate crisis. However, every child will inherit a planet with more frequent extreme weather events than ever before.  

Extreme events, including wildfires, floods and hurricanes, have become a frightening new normal. Hotter temperatures, air pollution and violent storms are leading to immediate, life-threatening dangers for children, including difficulty breathing, malnutrition and higher risk of infectious diseases. 

Save the Children is a global leader working in the U.S. and around the world to help children and their communities prevent, prepare for and recover from climate-induced disasters. Your donation to the Children's Emergency Fund supports this life-saving work. 

What Are the Effects of Climate Change on Future Generations? 

While climate change affects everyone, those who have contributed the least to the crisis—children, those in poverty, and future generations—are the most affected.

  • Extreme temperatures leave many families living in poverty with less food, less clean water, lower incomes and worsening health.
  • Children’s immune systems are still developing, leaving their rapidly growing bodies more sensitive to disease and pollution.
  • Extreme events can destroy homes, schools, child care centers and infrastructure critical to children’s well-being.
  • Droughts and flooding can destroy crops and cut access to clean water.
  • The UN warns that many families will have to choose between starvation and migration.
In Somalia, a boy looks out over a flooded river.

Statistics About Climate Change and Children

The climate crisis magnifies inequality, poverty, displacement and may increase the likelihood of conflict.

  • 90% of diseases resulting from the climate crisis are likely to affect children under the age of five.
  • By 2050, a further 24 million children are projected to be undernourished as a result of the climate crisis.
  • By 2040, it is estimated that one in four children will be living in areas with extreme water shortages.
  • Almost 160 million children are exposed to high severe and prolonged droughts.
  • The education of around 38 million children is disrupted each year by the climate crisis.
  • The climate crisis is forcing families to migrate. By 2050, there could be 143 million more migrants due to the climate crisis.

Our Work to Help Communities Prevent, Prepare for and Recover from Climate-Induced Disasters

Because the climate crisis impacts all aspects of children’s lives, so does Save the Children’s work.

Save the Children’s work ranges from food security programs for families suffering severe drought in the Horn of Africa, to providing emergency relief supplies for those recovering from the West Coast wildfires.

From green jobs that secure livelihoods, to hunger, to health impacts, to advocacy and more, Save the Children’s experts consider the short- and long-term impacts of the climate crisis and how our programs can support the present and future of children in the U.S. and around the world.

Our Humanitarian Climate Change Unit researches impacts on children; develops analytical tools to predict climate shocks; and uses these tools to take action in communities before they are hit by devastating climate events.

In 2019 Save the Children Australia became the first non-environmental NGO to be accredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). In 2022, the organization signed a deal with GCF and the governments of Vanuatu and Australia to deliver the Pacific region’s largest ever investment in community-based climate change adaptation in Vanuatu.

Learn More About the Impact of the Climate Crisis

Addressing the Climate Crisis

Together with children and their families, we are pushing governments to recognize the climate crisis.

Climate Crisis: Hunger in the Horn of Africa

For millions of children affected by the drought-driven hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, time is running out

Worsening Drought Threatens Somalia’s Children

The climate crisis is a major driver of extreme weather conditions including drought. 

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