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UNICEF urges countries to cut greenhouse emissions to 45% as risks grow for children

By Bisola Adeyemo

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has advised that greenhouse emissions be curtailed to at least 45 per cent in all countries as children were more exposes to toxic chemicals and temperature changes.

UNICEF gave this advice in its “Children’s Climate Risk Index” ranking of 163 countries released on Friday, the UN agency ranked Central Africa Republic (CAR) the highest risk country, while Nigeria and the Republic of Chad followed as second on the list.

The report stated that Nigeria’s low rating to children’s high exposure to air pollution and coastal floods.

The investment in social services, particularly child health, nutrition and education could help to reverse the trend, safeguard children’s future and provide better protection against climate change.

Environews quoted the reports as saying “Only one of these countries is ranked as `extremely high-risk’ in the index. Young people living in Nigeria are among those most at risk of the impacts of climate change, threatening their health, education and protection.

“Approximately one billion children, nearly half of the world’s 2.2 billion children, live in one of the 33 countries classified as ‘extremely high-risk’.

“These findings reflect the number of children impacted today, with figures likely to get worse as the impact of climate change accelerates.”

The UN reports quoted the UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, as saying that “investment in water, healthcare and education would help to reduce the impact of climate change on children and protect their future.”

Hawkins said that climate change remained a child’s rights crisis, adding that, “so far, little had been done to address it.”

While revealing the number of children exposes to climate change, the reports said “400 million children are highly exposed to cyclones and 600 million are highly exposed to vector borne diseases.

“Also, 815 million children are highly exposed to lead pollution and 820 million children are highly exposed to heat waves.

“920 million children are highly exposed to water scarcity and one billion children are highly exposed to exceedingly high levels of air pollution.”

The report, therefore, called on governments, businesses and relevant stakeholders to increase investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children.

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