Business Statement on Children and Climate Change

We, the undersigned, as leading businesses, investors, initiatives, and platforms, operating around the world, recognise the devastating impact that climate change has on the wellbeing and rights of children globally and our critical role in being part of the solution.

Climate change impacts everyone, but not in the same way. Some groups will experience and are already experiencing the most severe impacts of climate change because of where they live, their age, their status or their characteristics. Children are the least responsible for climate change and environmental degradation, yet most adversely affected by its impact. They are disproportionately affected by climate and environmental shocks for a number of reasons, including physical and physiological vulnerability and an increased risk of death.

UNICEF estimates that almost every child on earth is now exposed to at least one climate and environmental shock and stress, with approximately 1 billion children living in 33 countries at “extreme high risk” from the impacts of climate change. UNICEF also warns that one in four deaths in children under five are attributable to unhealthy environments. These hazards will increase in severity as the impacts of climate change accelerate.

As world economies emerge from COVID-19, businesses have a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and driving low-carbon economies and resilient societies. By adopting practices that are protective of the environment and take into consideration children’s rights, by supporting climate adaptation, and the provision of green skills, we can reduce children’s overall vulnerability to climate risk and support them to prepare for the future. We can mobilize financial resources, invest in new technologies and skilled workers, and exert influence through our operations, supply chains and networks.

A transition to a green economy is essential to ensure that today’s children inherit a liveable planet. To make sure that this transition is successful and delivers a just and sustainable future for all, we must avoid the unintended consequences of increasing child poverty and child exploitation as industries transform, jobs change, and new materials are sourced for alternative forms of energy. Governments and businesses have the tools and the capacity to ensure that children’s rights are respected while trying to tackle climate change. As we re-design the way businesses operate for a healthier environment, we have the opportunity, as well as duty, to take into greater consideration our impacts on children.

Children and young people have demonstrated their deep frustration at the intergenerational injustice that climate change represents, but they are also taking leadership, coming up with ideas and innovations. We cannot remain indifferent to the children and young people who are demanding urgent climate action.

As businesses, we:

  • Acknowledge that climate change, the environment and child rights are deeply connected and that children have the right to a healthy environment;
  • Commit to set ambitious emissions reduction targets in line with the science, with a view to implementing the action required to reduce greenhouse gases to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050, and to advocate with our peers to do the same;
  • Recognise the importance of supporting climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children and communities, including with respect to water, sanitation and hygiene systems, health, nutrition and education services;
  • Commit to adopt environmentally friendly practices, including sourcing 100% renewable energy for our operations and fleets, while ensuring that this transition to a green economy upholds the rights and well-being of children and their communities.

We call on Governments to:

  • Recognise and fulfil children’s right to a healthy environment;
  • Urgently strengthen NDCs in line with the objectives of the Paris agreement, committing to bold action to urgently reduce greenhouse gases by half by 2030, and to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050, while mainstreaming the priorities and rights of children and youth in these commitments;
  • Fulfil the commitment made by developed countries to provide USD$100billion in climate finance to developing countries each year, recognizing the need to urgently scale up and accelerate investment in climate adaptation and building resilience of key services for children;
  • Signal their commitment to respond to the priorities and needs of children and young people by aligning with the Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action, including its commitment to involve children and young people in all climate-related decision making, including at COP26 and future COPs;
  • Create an enabling policy, economic and legal environment to uphold our responsibility to respect children’s rights;
  • Provide children with climate education and green skills.

The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. Children and young people are the least responsible for climate change, and yet they will bear the worst consequences. As companies, investors, business initiatives and platforms, we stand ready to put children and young people at the heart of climate action.

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