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A knowledge resource selected by UNICEF for humanitarian practitioners everywhere

The coldest year of the rest of their lives: Protecting children from the escalating impacts of heatwaves

The climate crisis is rapidly accelerating and with it, heatwaves are becoming longer, stronger, more widespread and more frequent. Already, around 559 million children are exposed to high heatwave frequency and around 624 million children are exposed to one of three other high heat measures - high heatwave duration, high heatwave severity or extreme high temperatures.

This report provides yet more evidence that children are on the front lines of the climate crisis.

By 2050, virtually every child on earth – over 2 billion children – is forecast to face more frequent heatwaves, regardless of whether the world achieves a ‘low greenhouse gas emission scenario’ with an estimated 1.7 degrees of warming in 2050 or a ‘very high greenhouse gas emission scenario’ with an estimated 2.4 degrees of warming in 2050.

Heat is especially damaging to children’s health and affects their education and future livelihoods. Countries must act now by:

Protecting children from climate devastation by adapting social services.

Preparing children to live in a climate-changed world.

Prioritizing children and young people in climate finance and resources.

Preventing a climate catastrophe by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keep 1.5 degrees Celsius alive.

Almost every country is experiencing changing heatwaves. What each government does now will determine the survival of those least responsible for this crisis – our children and young people.



Area of Work

Climate, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction


Research or Technical Report (non-IRC)



Year Published


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