Published May 21, 2020
The disproportionate vulnerability of children to the vicissitudes of climate change has been widely noted, including in the Lancet Countdown and the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There are, of course, many consequences of climate change, including food and water scarcity, heat stress, increases in pollution- and vector-related diseases, lost family income, and displacement and trauma from surviving a climatological disaster—all of which can result in particularly severe and long-lasting physical and mental health sequelae in children.
Early this year, CGHE Co-Director and Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health Dr. Katarzyna (Kasia) Kordas co-authored a position paper on this topic with global colleagues. The paper, titled “The International Society for Children’s Health and the Environment [ISCHE] Commits to Reduce Its Carbon Footprint to Safeguard Children’s Health,” describes the Society’s multi-point plan to change its practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the society’s activities, including members’ air travel to attend its meetings. Further, ISCHE commits to increasing its impact by encouraging its constituents to promote carbon neutrality at their institutions, and to inform policy makers and industry experts about the inordinate impact of climate change on child health.
Describing her interest in this topic area, Kordas explains that “Scientists—particularly those interested in investigating environmental impacts on health—should thoughtfully interrogate institutional and personal carbon footprints.” She adds that she hopes other scientific societies will reflect on their activities and develop similar plans to reduce their carbon footprints: “It’s not enough to analyze data, publish papers, and convene to share information – we all need to take personal as well as institutional responsibility for climate change.”