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Climate and Environmental Emergency

The climate crisis directly affects children around the world and is an existential threat to our mission for children.

The ecological emergency – climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss – is devasting the lives of children and communities around the world. That’s why we’re committed to being part of the solution to the crisis – and that starts with reducing our own environmental impact.

Its impacts are already being felt by the most affected children and areas. One billion children live in countries at extreme risk from climate change.

Without drastic action, children in the most-affected areas – especially girls, indigenous children, and children with disabilities – will endure the worst impacts of climate change. That’s why we are responding through our programmes, humanitarian work, advocacy, campaigns and research, and by reducing our own impact on the environment.

"We, younger generations, will be crucial to stir the rest of the world to complete the vital task of saving our planet. We need to make children an essential part of the solution.” – Arunima, 14, Save the Children UK Youth Advisory Board member

Why we must stay below a 1.5°C rise

Children’s access to a quality education, a healthy life and a safe environment are being rapidly curtailed by exposure to more prevalent and severe wildfires, crop failures, droughts, floods and heatwaves.

In 2021, Save the Children partnered with leading climate researchers led by Vrije Universiteit Brussel to look at how children will experience extreme weather events related to climate change. The resulting report, Born Into the Climate Crisis, shows that keeping global temperature rises below 1.5°C could make a huge difference to children’s futures. It would reduce the additional lifetime exposure of children born in 2020 to:

  • heatwaves by 45%
  • droughts by 39%
  • river floods by 38%
  • crop failures by 28%; and
  • wildfires by 10%.

This, in turn, would allow more children to get the food, education and healthcare they need to thrive.  So change is possible – but we must act now.

Woman wearing a red Save the Children t-shirt holding a sign at a climate march


Save the Children has been responding to the impact of climate-related crises for years.

Our programmes have provided water to communities battling drought, distributed cash transfers to families whose livelihoods have been devastated by extreme weather, and set up early-warning systems to predict when disasters might hit.

Find out more information on actions we took in 2022.


Save the Children can play a unique role in helping children hold governments to account on their climate change commitments, and in encouraging leaders to act in children’s best interests. We are pushing politicians and the private sector to:

  • take ambitious and urgent action to limit warming to a maximum of 1.5°C
  • increase their financial commitments to help the most-affected areas mitigate and adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis
  • recognise children as equal stakeholders and key agents of change, including by establishing child-friendly mechanisms and platforms to facilitate their formal engagement in climate policy-making
  • scale up social protection systems to address the impacts of climate shocks on children and their families.


The ecological emergency – climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss – is devasting the lives of children and communities around the world. That’s why we’re committed to being part of the solution to the crisis – and that starts with reducing our own environmental impact.

We will become an ecologically smart organisation by:

·        reducing our ‘direct’ emissions by 50% by the end of 2024 (compared to our 2019 baseline) and by 70% by 2030, and reducing our wider emissions where possible (such as emissions from pensions and investments, employee commutes, and waste)

·        investing in honing our people’s existing skills and increasing their knowledge on the crisis – particularly its disproportionate impact on children – as well as on themes such as carbon literacy, ways of reducing global emissions, and the neo-colonial causes of the crisis. Where possible, we’re giving staff opportunities to upskill by taking on new roles and projects in this area.

·        improving environmental risk management and better understanding the environmental impact of our decisions, such as how we work and with whom. In 2023, we will roll out environmental management systems for our operations, overseas programmes and humanitarian responses.

Progress in 2022

This year we concentrated on strengthening our processes and practices in environmental sustainability and on improving the data we use to measure progress. In 2023, we will increase our focus on embedding and scaling up these improvements.

·        Work-related travel: We committed to reducing our air travel emissions to 70% less in 2022 than in 2019. We launched a new travel policy to enable us to meet our pledge, improved the quality of our flight emissions data and access to it, and developed divisional quarterly review processes to monitor compliance.

·        Staff engagement: We worked to engage colleagues on the climate crisis through our staff environmental network, circulating blogs on topics from sustainable back-to-school ideas to fast fashion, and hosting lunchtime talks on subjects ranging from the environmental impacts of our pensions to gardening in small spaces.

·        Pensions and investments: We investigated lower-carbon pension funds and, in 2023, will prioritise enabling staff to make better-informed decisions on the sustainability of their pension choices.

For more information on our carbon emissions, please click here.

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