THE climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity.

As we consider the impact of COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, and its legacy for Glasgow, we must continue to support the calls for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health. The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 makes small steps in the right direction but it does not go far enough.

Climate change has significant implications for the health and futures of children and young people. Children have suffered and died due to extreme weather events - floods, cyclones, heatwaves, and consequent wildfires. Climate change is now a leading cause of forced migration, disrupting children’s home and family lives, education, and healthcare.

After two weeks of speeches, protests, meetings, and intense negotiations at the Glasgow climate summit, anxiety over the climate crisis appears to be growing.

As a consequence of inadequate action by adults and governments, feelings of abandonment and betrayal are making children and young people vulnerable to increased climate anxiety. While having limited power to change the trajectory of climate change themselves, children and young people will live to see more of its impact. Anxiety is a rational response.

We need to focus on addressing the calls for child health to be a priority. All children have the right to clean air, safe water, affordable and nutritious food, and adequate housing. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis, and local government has to mobilise and secure the maximum available resources to protect those rights and include a child rights risk assessment as part of decision-making.

Children and young people are especially vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution. Local government has to strengthen its targets to end the use of fossil fuels in all sectors as part of the transition to clean renewable sources of energy, including support for immediate cessation of all fossil fuel exploration and subsidies.

We have to tackle climate change bottom up, top down, and any way possible. Child protection is everyone’s business, and climate protection is child protection. Children and young people are at the heart of achieving climate justice and a liveable planet.

It would be wise to listen to the science-led youth movements, and to an emerging generation of young climate scientists. Young people are reading and engaging with climate and biodiversity science and policy in a way that previous generations haven’t. They are reading climate science and using that knowledge to argue for honesty and meaningful action from their leaders.

The Glasgow Climate Summit is the first time that countries must explain, in public, whether their actions will achieve climate targets, according to projections from research. Countries which are not fulfilling their pledges are being called out. We would be wise to listen to young climate activists.

As a legacy of COP26, local government in Glasgow has to involve our children and young people in decision-making to make sure they have say in the delivery of our pledge to achieve net-zero by 2030.