Kiwi kids could face up to five times as many heatwaves and four times as many droughts compared to older generations unless drastic action to curb emissions is taken, new research finds.
Launched ahead of global climate talks in Glasgow Save the Children's Born into the Climate Crisis report reveals the devastating impact the climate crisis will have on children and their rights if nations do not work together to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
It found that, in New Zealand, children born in 2020 will experience 5.6 times as many heatwaves and 4.3 times as many droughts as those born in the 1960s.
They could also see 1.5 times as many wildfires, 1.4 times as many river floods and 1.3 as many crop failures under current trajectory of global emissions.
The climate modelling conducted for 178 countries worldwide, and led by researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel also projects up to 10 times more extreme weather events for children in Australia and the Pacific, and up to 24 times as many worldwide.
A baby born last year in Papua New Guinea will face double the risk of bushfire and 10 times as many heatwaves as their elders, while children in Vanuatu – already recovering from a barrage of devastating cyclones – will face new challenges including nearly three times as many droughts.
In Australia, children born in 2020 can expect to experience four times as many heatwaves, three times as many droughts, as well as 1.5 times as many bushfires and river floods, under the current trajectory of global emissions.
But if nations could somehow limit warming to 1.5C - a threshold the UN's latest stocktake found could be crossed as soon as 2030 to 2035 - the lifetime exposure of newborns to heatwaves, globally, could be reduced by 45 per cent, droughts by 39 per cent, river floods by 38 per cent, crop failures by 28 per cent, and wildfires by 10 per cent.
"In New Zealand, the main issues babies born last year will face are heatwaves and droughts – which has a rise of 4.3, which is well above the worldwide average," report author and Save the Children Pacific policy and advocacy adviser Erin Ryan said.
"The evidence can't be any clearer that if nations do not work together to put children at the centre of their climate strategies and take urgent action to limit warming to that crucial 1.5C point, millions will be at risk of serious harm."
Save the Children New Zealand's advocacy and research director Jacqui Southey said the report portrayed a bleak view of the future for today's tamariki and their whānau.
"We've already seen the devastating impact of flooding on our communities recently and with a predicted rise in these, as well as far greater rises in droughts and heatwaves, we need to take the warnings and recommendations in this report seriously."
The report comes as climate campaigner Greta Thunberg criticised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a new interview.
The Guardian asked if not even Ardern, who recently called the climate crisis a matter of "life or death", Thunberg said it is "funny" that "people believe Jacinda Ardern and people like that are climate leaders".
"That just tells you how little people know about the climate crisis," she said.