Urgent Call to Action: Save the Children’s Report Highlights Devastating Global Impact of Climate Crisis in 2023

In 2023, a staggering 30% increase in global casualties occurred due to floods, wildfires, cyclones, storms, and landslides, as revealed by a recent analysis conducted by Save the Children. This alarming escalation, encompassing approximately 240 climate-related events, indicates the growing severity and frequency of extreme weather incidents, propelled by the escalating climate crisis.

A meticulous examination of EM-DAT data by Save the Children underscores the disproportionate impact on low-income countries. Shockingly, over half of the fatalities in 2023 transpired in low-income or lower-middle-income nations. Equally noteworthy is that nearly half of the 5,326 casualties—45%—originated from countries contributing less than 0.1% of global emissions, according to the EU’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).

Kelley Toole, Global Head of Climate Change at Save the Children, asserts that this analysis unequivocally exposes the climate crisis’s profound inequities, exacerbating issues of inequality, poverty, and displacement. The grim reality of thousands of deaths resulting from extreme weather events serves as a poignant illustration of the profound impact of climate change on vulnerable populations, especially children, families, and communities.

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Impact of Cyclone Freddy in Blantyre City. Townships such as Chilobwe and Manja experienced the worst damage with severe mudslides. UNICEF is collaborating with the Malawi Government and humanitarian partners and working on mobilizing pre-positioned supplies and life-saving assistance for those affected prioritizing access to clean water, hygiene, and sanitation facilities. UNICEF is supporting the Department of Disaster Management to assess the full extent of the damage and its impact on families and children. © UNICEF Malawi/2023/Corporate Media

To address this pressing issue, Save the Children emphasizes the urgent need for a significant scaling up of climate finance, with a heightened responsiveness to children’s needs, including provisions for loss and damage. While acknowledging the progress represented by the ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels at COP28, Save the Children underscores that more decisive action, specifically a rapid fossil fuel phase-out, is imperative for a just transition for children globally.

In recounting the specific climate disasters in 2023, the devastating consequences become vivid. Cyclone Freddy’s havoc in Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique, claiming over 1,400 lives, and the subsequent destruction of schools leave an indelible mark on the region. Save the Children’s intervention, exemplified by supporting children like Anjo and Juliana in resuming their education, underscores the organization’s commitment to mitigating the adverse effects on vulnerable communities.

Similarly, in Pakistan, where nearly half of the almost 200 rain-related casualties were children during the monsoon season, the aftermath of 2022’s mega floods continues to compound challenges. Save the Children’s involvement is pivotal in providing relief, rebuilding, and assisting affected families, exemplifying its comprehensive approach to climate-related crises.

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Thousands were forced to undergo migration within Pakistan due to the floods. Source: climate adaptation platform

While advancements in forecasting and disaster management have curtailed casualties over the last century, the frequency of extreme weather events has surged five-fold in the past 50 years. Modeling research by Vrije Universiteit Brussel, supported by Save the Children, underscores the grim future for today’s children, with projections indicating seven times more heatwaves, twice as many wildfires, and nearly three times the exposure to river floods, crop failures, and droughts.

Save the Children, as the world’s leading independent child rights organization, operates in 116 countries, integrating climate action across its initiatives. The organization’s efforts range from establishing floating schools to reconstructing homes and providing cash grants to disaster-affected families.

Moreover, Save the Children actively collaborates with child climate campaigners, amplifying the voices of children worldwide who demand improved access to climate education, increased funding for climate-resilient infrastructure, and a seat at the decision-making table. In doing so, Save the Children remains steadfast in its commitment to a sustainable and equitable future for all children.

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