2 Dec 2015

Climate change affects kids now: UNICEF

7:16 am on 2 December 2015

The United Nations Childrens Fund says talk of climate action for future generations is misleading given hundreds of millions of children around the world are already adversely affected by climate change.

UNICEF New Zealand's international advocacy manager says the human rights of children on low lying islands all across the Pacific are being threatened by rising sea levels increased severe weather events and food and water shortages.

Children in Kiribati play on a partially submerged coconut trunk.

Children in Kiribati play on a partially submerged coconut trunk. Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF New Zealand

(Foreground) a child and an elderly man stand on the roof of a dwelling damaged Cyclone Pam, on Ifira Island, just off the coast of the main island of Efate.

(Foreground) a child and an elderly man stand on the roof of a dwelling damaged Cyclone Pam, on Ifira Island, just off the coast of the main island of Efate. Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF

Sarah Morris says world leaders gathered for COP 21 in Paris this week need to listen to their citizens, millions of whom took to the streets all around the world over the weekend demanding immediate action on climate change.

"UNICEF has a UN mandate to protect the children living in these countries and we see climate change as a violation of children's rights. You know children have a right to a safe clean healthy environment to live in and climate change is, is threatening that."

Ms Morris says failure in Paris would mean an even bleaker outlook for future generations than the one already faced by children today.

A child on Kiribati watches the sunset on an ever rising ocean.

A child on Kiribati watches the sunset on an ever rising ocean. Photo: Courtesy of UNICEF New Zealand