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Why I chose to have children, despite the climate crisis

This isn’t the first time in history that a generation has had to ask whether having kids is wise or morally acceptable.

When my parents were thinking about kids, it was the threat of nuclear war. For the people of my generation – it’s the climate crisis.

A few years ago I saw a clip of Ryan Reynolds saying when his first child was born, he knew he’d literally use his wife as a human shield to protect them. I laughed then. Now, when I look into the eyes of my own baby, I realize he was not joking. Not really anyway.

Something weird happens when you become a parent – part ninja, part over-sensitive mind reader, you physically, and mentally try to protect your kids from any harm.

Which is quite the task if you have a bonkers two year old whose idea of fun is to climb onto the highest thing they can sit on, then pretend they are riding a dog from Paw Patrol. But that’s another story.  

The thought of anything happening to my daughter is the worst thing I can imagine. The thought that something might happen to her that is my doing is unthinkable.

So it is very hard to reconcile this with the knowledge that I brought this beloved, blameless person onto a planet which could become unlivable in her lifetime.

“We are on a catastrophic path,” says António Guterres, secretary general of the UN. “We can either save our world or condemn humanity to a hellish future.”

The link between the climate crisis and children's lives has never been clearer to see, or more difficult to witness.

People – including children – are already dying from climate change.

So, why choose to have children in the context of climate crisis?

I made the choice because I believe in hope, and the power of change. There is nothing more galvanising than a tiny child whose future rests in your hands – my life, and my choices have changed irrevocably since the moment I first held her.

I also know that we only have the next few years to solve the climate crisis or at least slow it down enough to stop absolute catastrophe.

This deep call to action I feel as a parent, seems a world away from the actions of our governemt, and the people round the world who hold the power to – literally – save our planet. What a responsibility, and what a moment for apathy.

Allowing a narrative to propagate that we as individuals must stop having children in order to help prevent catastrophic global temperature rise when 70% of our emissions come from fossil fuels is a bit like being concerned your shed is on fire as the house burns down behind you.

What can we do instead?

So yes, I didn’t want to let my fears stop me from making a meaningful, personal decision to start a family.

But I can’t ignore the knowledge that the children we do have will bear the brunt of this apathy, and inaction. They will be around to see the world burn if we don’t act – and in fact children around the world are already on the front line.

Working at Save the Children has helped me understand that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis. As such, as an organisation we have a responsibility to hold governments to account on the commitments they have made.

We will never stop advocating for change, urging our government to put children's voices at the heart of decisions they make, and supporting children dealing with the affects of the climate disaster now to have better outcomes and the support they need.

I only hope we - collectively - can and will act before it's too late. 
Read more about the outcomes of cop26 and how our world leaders failed to protect child rights

Learn more about how the climate crisis is uniquely affecting children

Hear Sahra’s story – just one of the children we’re directly supporting who are facing the effects of the climate crisis

Donate to our emergency fund and help us support children on the frontline of the climate crisis

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