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As global temperatures rise, children must be central to climate change debates

May 5, 2016

Forecasts suggest that by 2050, the world could see 200 million environmental migrants, many of whom would be children. For this reason and others, children should be central to such climate change debates, according to a journal released by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution.

Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather will all alter children’s lives and the lives of their own children. And yet, children are largely left out of discussions about appropriate responses to climate change. They—as well as future generations—must be included, as they have a much larger stake in the outcome than current generations, authors argue in the latest volume of Future of Children.

The joint Princeton-Brookings publication outlines how climate change is likely to affect children’s health and well-being, identifying policies that could mitigate the harm that climate change will cause.

“Decision-making surrounding climate change is greatly complicated by the high degree of uncertainty involved in virtually all of its aspects. Yet waiting for uncertainty to be resolved before acting isn’t a viable option, given the risk of allowing irreversible changes to the planet,” said senior editor Janet Currie, Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “When we consider that people today must pay the price of efforts to mitigate climate change but people in the future will reap the benefits, all of these uncertainties make it harder to decide how to balance future generations’ well-being against our own.”

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