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24 August 2023

25 August 2023: The Albanese Government has put the spotlight on climate change and the net zero transformation as one of the biggest forces shaping Australia’s economy in the coming decades, but UNICEF Australia warns children and young people have been left to bear the economic and social burden. 

Intergenerational Report 2023

The Intergenerational Report projects that by 2062-63 sweltering temperatures fanned by global warming will cost the economy up to $423 billion, reduce the nation’s crop yields, and leave taxpayers footing the bill for more expensive natural disasters.  

Head of Policy and Advocacy at UNICEF Australia, Katie Maskiell said children need to be protected, prepared, and prioritised in response to the climate crisis, which is the defining global challenge of our time. 

Climate resilience needed now

“The Government’s Intergenerational Report reaffirms the need to invest in climate resilience now and not at some point in the future,” Ms Maskiell said. 

“While the focus on the net zero transformation is welcome, children and young people want to see Australia demonstrate as much ambition as possible in the coming years and reach net zero as soon as practicably possible.  

"Given their current age, children and young people today will be the most heavily impacted by the climate crisis, despite being the least responsible."

Katie Maskiell
Head of Policy and Advocacy at UNICEF Australia

“Investing in children’s resilience through education and by making child-critical social services more climate resilient will reduce the costs of crisis response in the long-run when more frequent and severe weather events and disasters take hold.”  

Calls for child-centred climate action

UNICEF Australia is calling for child-centred climate action, including clear, tangible, and effective child-focused disaster response plans that protect the needs and lives of children and young people. 

Globally, UNICEF is delivering programs that aim to increase the adaptation, resilience, and sustainability of communities in the face of climate change. 

A young girl holding a sign that says "Little Thoughts on Big Matters"
A young girl holding a sign that says "Little Thoughts on Big Matters"
© UNICEF/UN0365919/Marshall

Children are the future

“Today’s children will be our future leaders and our future workforce,” Ms Maskiell said. 

“Children and young people will play in a critical role in how Australia prepares for and prevents the impacts, whether it be as first responders to climate-driven disasters, entrepreneurs and innovators in the net zero transition, or as leading policymakers. 

“It will be crucial to consider how we can upskill children and incentivise young people during this transformation to take up the jobs of the future, including in remote and rural areas. 

"Similar to the intent of the Intergenerational Report, we must think on the decisions we make for children now if we want to ensure a better future for our nation."

Katie Maskiell
Head of Policy and Advocacy at UNICEF Australia