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Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes

Thiery, Wim; Lange, Stefan; Rogelj, Joeri; Schleussner, Carl Friedrich; Gudmundsson, Lukas; Seneviratne, Sonia I.; Andrijevic, Marina; Frieler, Katja; Emanuel, Kerry; Geiger, Tobias; Bresch, David N.; Zhao, Fang; Willner, Sven N.; Büchner, Matthias; Volkholz, Jan; Bauer, Nico; Chang, Jinfeng; Ciais, Philippe; Dury, Marie; François, Louis; Grillakis, Manolis; Gosling, Simon N.; Hanasaki, Naota; Hickler, Thomas; Huber, Veronika; Ito, Akihiko; Jägermeyr, Jonas; Khabarov, Nikolay; Koutroulis, Aristeidis; Liu, Wenfeng; Lutz, Wolfgang; Mengel, Matthias; Müller, Christoph; Ostberg, Sebastian; Reyer, Christopher P. O.; Stacke, Tobias; Wada, Yoshihide

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Wim Thiery

Stefan Lange

Joeri Rogelj

Carl Friedrich Schleussner

Lukas Gudmundsson

Sonia I. Seneviratne

Marina Andrijevic

Katja Frieler

Kerry Emanuel

Tobias Geiger

David N. Bresch

Fang Zhao

Sven N. Willner

Matthias Büchner

Jan Volkholz

Nico Bauer

Jinfeng Chang

Philippe Ciais

Marie Dury

Louis François

Manolis Grillakis

Professor of Climate Risks and Environmental Modelling

Naota Hanasaki

Thomas Hickler

Veronika Huber

Akihiko Ito

Jonas Jägermeyr

Nikolay Khabarov

Aristeidis Koutroulis

Wenfeng Liu

Wolfgang Lutz

Matthias Mengel

Christoph Müller

Sebastian Ostberg

Christopher P. O. Reyer

Tobias Stacke

Yoshihide Wada


Under continued global warming, extreme events such as heat waves will continue to rise in frequency, intensity, duration, and spatial extent over the next decades (1–4). Younger generations are therefore expected to face more such events across their lifetimes compared with older generations. This raises important issues of solidarity and fairness across generations (5, 6) that have fueled a surge of climate protests led by young people in recent years and that underpin issues of intergenerational equity raised in recent climate litigation. However, the standard scientific paradigm is to assess climate change in discrete time windows or at discrete levels of warming (7), a “period” approach that inhibits quantification of how much more extreme events a particular generation will experience over its lifetime compared with another. By developing a “cohort” perspective to quantify changes in lifetime exposure to climate extremes and compare across generations (see the first figure), we estimate that children born in 2020 will experience a two- to sevenfold increase in extreme events, particularly heat waves, compared with people born in 1960, under current climate policy pledges. Our results highlight a severe threat to the safety of young generations and call for drastic emission reductions to safeguard their future.


Thiery, W., Lange, S., Rogelj, J., Schleussner, C. F., Gudmundsson, L., Seneviratne, S. I., …Wada, Y. (2021). Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes. Science, 374(6564), 158-160.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 19, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 26, 2021
Publication Date Oct 8, 2021
Deposit Date Sep 28, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 28, 2021
Journal Science
Print ISSN 0036-8075
Electronic ISSN 1095-9203
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 374
Issue 6564
Pages 158-160
Public URL
Publisher URL


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