Climate change has already increased global temperatures, greatly increasing extremes. This will continue unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to “net-zero”. The 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement requires emissions reductions of around 50% in the next 10 years.
Newborn babies are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures. They have a limited ability to thermoregulate – or control their body temperature – and can easily become dangerously hot or cold.
Older babies and toddlers can thermoregulate better. But they are often unable to communicate their temperature discomfort. They rely on caregivers to help them adjust clothing and change their environment – like opening a window or seeking shade.
Africa has some of the poorest and hottest countries in the world. This means that young African children are at particular risk of heat stress impacts.
However, estimates of heat-related deaths in African children are limited, primarily due to the lack of available mortality data over the continent.
There has been little research into the impact of climate change on child heat-related deaths in any region of the world.
To address this knowledge gap, we estimated present day and future heat-related mortality due to climate change in African children under five years. We did this using a range of different global heating scenarios and information from a small number of existing studies relating temperatures to heat-related child deaths in Africa.
We also considered po …