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Inaction on climate change: a violation of children's rights

The lack of action to tackle climate change is a violation of children's rights, according to the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, in particular with regard to “the right to life, development, health and medical care, education, a good standard of living, and protection”.

The report by Jennifer De Temmerman (France, ALDE), adopted by the committee, points out that, according to UNICEF, nearly one billion children live in areas exposed to a very high risk of impact from climate change, which could kill 250,000 children additionally each year between now and 2100.

In order to preserve a viable environment and respect for the human rights of all generations, the committee has made a set of recommendations to member States based on its consultations with children. It called on States, in particular, to honour their international commitments on tackling climate change and on children's rights as set out in the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and to anchor the human right to a healthy, clean, safe and sustainable environment through national, European and international legal instruments.

The committee also encouraged States to give priority to climate change adaptation policies favouring children's resilience to climate change and initiatives to improve their quality of life and health, including through “the development of resilient and green infrastructure in schools”. Strong measures should be taken to reduce children's exposure to air pollution, says the adopted text.

Finally, the committee called to recognise children as “actors of change in the climate crisis”, by involving them in decision-making, and promoting their participation through the creation of consultation mechanisms.