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Protecting children from climate change

The Climate and Health Alliance is particularly concerned about the health and well-being of children in relation to climate change. Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and suffer around 90% of the disease burden from climate change. As part of its advocacy efforts, along with child health researchers and child advocates the Climate and Health Alliance has written a letter to child advocates and research institutions, asking that they include climate change as an urgent priority area for child advocacy, research, policy and practice. The letter, co-signed by leading children and health researchers and advocates, sent to all Children's Commissioners, child health research centres and advocacy groups in October 2012, states: "We are only beginning to understand the impacts that climate change will have on children's development, health and mental health. In addition to a greater emphasis on mitigation, more research at the regional and local levels is desperately needed so that we can adequately understand, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Because climate change poses such a significant threat to our children and future generations we believe that child advocate and research institutions have a responsibility to have it as a priority area for advocacy, research, policy and practice. We have attached a list of ideas for inclusion in a research, policy and practice agenda. We also believe that, in order to reduce harm to children and future generations, child advocate and research institutions should have a policy to reduce their organisation's carbon footprint (e.g., by switching to Green power, purchasing carbon offsets for air travel, and monitoring the carbon footprint of suppliers). As concerned scientists and child advocates we should also publicly call for effective climate change mitigation strategies at the local, national and international levels to help limit the threat to the development, health and mental health of our children and future generations. Strategies to reduce emissions would have the added public health benefit of decreasing the incidence and severity of many chronic and avoidable diseases associated with our high-carbon lifestyle." The full text of the letter can be found here. Responses received by January 2013: