EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The kids aren’t alright

Wim Thiery1,2, Stefan Lange3, Joeri Rogelj4, Sonia I. Seneviratne2, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner5, Katja Frieler3, Nico Bauer3, and the ISIMIP modelling team*
Wim Thiery et al.
  • 1Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Brussels, Belgium (
  • 2ETH Zurich, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, Germany
  • 4Imperial College London, Grantham Institute, London, United Kingdom
  • 5Climate Analytics, Berlin, Germany
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

Will a new-born experience more impacts from climate change compared to a 60-year old? While the obvious answer to this question is yes, impacts accumulated across an average person’s lifetime have so far not been quantified. Providing such information is however relevant and timely, given the recent surge in societal debate regarding inter-generational solidarity and considering ongoing climate litigation. Here we combine multi-model impact projections from the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP) with temperature trajectories from the IPCC special report on warming of 1.5°C and life expectancy data from the World Bank to compute accumulated impact exposure across lifetimes of people in different age groups and countries. We consider six impacts categories (droughts, heatwaves, tropical cyclones, crop failure, floods, and wildfires), for which ISIMIP provides a total of 170 impact projections with 15 different impact models under RCP2.6 and 6.0. Our results highlight that the combined increase in life expectancy and unfolding climate impacts leads to 2-4 times more impacts affecting a new-born compared to a 60-year old person under current policy pledges. Globally, the increase in exposure for young people is dominated by the strong increase in heatwave hazards. The strongest increases occur in low and lower-middle income countries, where rising impacts compound a substantial increase in life expectancy. Our results overall highlight the strong benefit of aligning policies with the Paris Agreement for safeguarding the future of current young generations.

ISIMIP modelling team:

Several contributors to the ISIMIP2b modelling phase

How to cite: Thiery, W., Lange, S., Rogelj, J., Seneviratne, S. I., Schleussner, C.-F., Frieler, K., and Bauer, N. and the ISIMIP modelling team: The kids aren’t alright, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18648,, 2020