Entire towns in New South Wales’s central west have been ravaged by floods and parts of the country are bracing for more possible flooding this weekend, showing clearly that Australian children are at the front lines of the climate crisis, said Save the Children today.
NSW has spent more than 60 days in a flooding emergency, with fresh flood warnings occurring daily, and the town of Forbes even flooding twice in two weeks. Parts of Victoria and South Australia have been flooded or are facing flood warnings, while Queensland was also hit earlier this year.
Thousands of Australian children have been impacted by devastating flooding in recent weeks and months, with families in some regions still displaced from massive floods earlier this year. At least three people reportedly died in flooding in October, with a fourth death reported this week.
Matt Gardiner, CEO of Save the Children’s Australian service delivery division, 54 reasons, said that children are always among those worst affected in an emergency, and climate-driven disasters like flooding are no exception.
“Australian children are having their lives disrupted by a revolving door of climate-driven disasters, which is testing their resilience like never before,” he said.
“We know the climate crisis is having a detrimental impact on children’s mental and physical wellbeing, playing havoc with their education, and threatening their futures.
“As COP27 negotiations enter their final stretch, Australia’s flooding emergency serves as yet another wakeup call to leaders, that they must act to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis by ensuring global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”
It is also critical that governments enable children to participate in disaster preparedness, recovery and resilience activities in their communities, especially given they are the ones who will benefit most from reducing disaster risk and impacts as the climate crisis worsens.
“The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. Children in Australia and around the world are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, but their voices are rarely heard,” Mr Gardiner said.
“Now, more than ever, it is critical that children’s needs and views are considered in disaster response and recovery planning.”
Save the Children and 54 reasons have a long history of responding to emergencies in Australia, including the 2022 East Coast floods, the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, Cyclone Trevor in the Northern Territory, the Townsville floods in Far North Queensland and the bushfires of the Huon Valley in Tasmania. 54 reasons is already providing recovery support for children affected by flooding in NSW.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Save the Children is asking world leaders at COP27 to:
Ensure a focus on children’s rights and equity, especially children impacted by inequality and discrimination and based on children’s own views and recommendations, in climate negotiations, policies and financing. Increase financial commitments to help communities and children impacted by inequality and discrimination deal with and recover from climate impacts and shocks. This includes going beyond the unmet pledge to provide at least $100 billion climate finance annually and to spread it 50/50 between adaptation and mitigation.
Provide new, additional, and ambitious funding to address rapidly escalating loss and damage and support the creation of a new climate finance mechanism to help address the cost of the irreversible impacts of the climate crisis to children’s rights. This includes supporting communities already hit by irreversible climate impacts.
Act urgently to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the best interests of children and rapidly phase out the use and subsidy of fossil fuels. Delayed actions will literally cost lives.
Recognise the crucial stake children have in addressing the climate and environmental crisis and make provisions for the safe and meaningful participation of children at COP 27 and in other climate related decision-making forums and summits and act on their recommendations.
Save the Children has recently published new research, titled ‘Generation Hope’ which shows one in three children around the world are facing the double threat of high climate risk and crushing poverty.