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Category:Climate Migration

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Where We'll End Up Living as the Planet Burns

By Gaia Vince


Adapted from Gaia Vince’s new book NOMAD CENTURY: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World, published by Flatiron Books (August 2022)


While nations are trying to cut their carbon emissions and adapt to warmer climates, the elephant in the room is that for large parts of the globe, the local conditions are too extreme. There is no other way of adapting. To survive, people will need to relocate.

The next 50 years will see increased heat, combined with greater humidity, make huge swathes worldwide uninhabitable. Massive numbers will have to flee from the tropics, coasts, and former arable lands. You will either be one of them or they will give you housing. This migration has already begun—we have all seen the streams of people fleeing drought-hit areas in Latin America, Africa, and Asia where farming and other rural livelihoods have become impossible.

Over the past decade, global migration has increased by two-thirds. The issue of dealing with the rapidly rising number of refugees will be more important as the earth heats.

We can—and we must—prepare. A radical plan to ensure humanity’s survival in a hotter world involves building new large cities to the far north and abandoning vast areas of the unsustainable tropics. This involves adapting food, energy and infrastructure to the changing environment. As billions are forced from their homes, they will need new housing.

Cooperating like never before is our best chance of success: dissociating the political map and geography. It may sound absurd, but we must look at the world from a new perspective and create plans that are based on geography, ecology, and geology. In other words: identify the areas with the greatest freshwater supply, safe temperatures, solar energy sources, and plan for population growth, food, and energy production. The good news is, there’s plenty of room on Earth...


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Climate Refugees, Climate-Related Migrants

By 2050 over one billion people are at threat of being displaced
Drought, war, civil violence, economic disruption -- the costs of climate change are coming into view


Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and disaster displacement one of its most devastating consequences. Entire populations are already suffering the impacts, but vulnerable people living in some of the most fragile and conflict-affected countries are often disproportionately affected.

Refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and the stateless are on the frontlines of the climate emergency. Many are living in climate “hotspots”, where they typically lack the resources to adapt to an increasingly hostile environment.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has issues warnings, “Urgent steps needed now to mitigate climate impact on displaced people”. They continued: “The climate crisis is a human crisis. It is driving displacement and makes life harder for those already forced to flee.”



UN Global Refugees Social Media Accounts


(2020)

The Institute for Economics and Peace (2020):

Over one billion people are at threat of being displaced by 2050 due to environmental change, conflict and civil unrest.


The Ecological Threat Register (ETR), that measures the ecological threats countries are currently facing and provides projections to 2050. The report uniquely combines measures of resilience with the most comprehensive ecological data available, to shed light on the countries least likely to cope with extreme ecological shocks.

Key results

- 19 countries with the highest number of ecological threats are among the world's 40 least peaceful countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Chad, India and Pakistan.

- Over one billion people live in 31 countries where the country's resilience is unlikely to sufficiently withstand the impact of ecological events by 2050, contributing to mass population displacement.

- Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are the regions facing the largest number of ecological threats.

- By 2040, a total of 5.4 billion people – more than half of the world's projected population – will live in the 59 countries experiencing high or extreme water stress, including India and China.

- 3.5 billion people could suffer from food insecurity by 2050; which is an increase of 1.5 billion people from today.

- The lack of resilience in countries covered in the ETR will lead to worsening food insecurity and competition over resources, increasing civil unrest and mass displacement, exposing developed countries to increased influxes of refugees.


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Visions of Humanity

(2021)

A composite index measuring the impact of ecological threats to countries made up of 5 qualitative indicators each weighed on a scale of 1-5. The higher the score, the more at risk the country.

The second edition of the Ecological Threat Report (ETR), which analyses 178 independent states and territories. Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the report covers over 2,500 sub- national administrative units or 99.9% of the world’s population.



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Climate refugee or climate migrant?

The terms refugee and migrant have been repeatedly used as political weapons by various political parties and governments, and the connotations of these labels can be contentious. The term ‘refugee’, according to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the State of Refugees, is “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that language is important in order to offer legal protection to individuals. They caution that:


“This is not just semantics—which definition becomes generally accepted will have very real implications for the obligations of the international community under international law. Forced climate migrants fall through the cracks of international refugee and immigration policy—and there is considerable resistance to the idea of expanding the definition of political refugees to incorporate climate ‘refugees’. The term ‘climate migrant’ can also be a loaded term, with the implication that the ‘pull’ of the destination rather than the ‘push’ of the original country is the primary factor for an individual to move.”

In its conclusion, they note that formal recognition is the critical first step.

“Meanwhile, large-scale migration is not taken into account in national adaptation strategies which tend to see migration as a ‘failure of adaptation’. The international community needs to acknowledge formally the predicament of forced climate migrants.”


The IPCC also highlight that numbers of displaced persons may be significantly under-counted owing to large-scale displacement within countries. “Given that the majority of people displaced by climate change will likely stay within their own borders, restricting the definition to those who cross international borders may seriously understate the extent of the problem”. National borders may seriously understate the extent of the problem”.

...with the lack of a secure definition under international law, climate migrants can fall between the cracks in asylum law, with no institution or country responsible for providing them with basic services. This, in turn, has the potential to be the biggest humanitarian disaster ever recorded – with hundreds of millions of people at risk of climate displacement.


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Millions of People May Soon Become Climate Migrants

Climate change will drive human migration more than other events, a new report warns. But the worst impacts can be avoided.


National Geographic / World Bank / March 2018


Climate change will transform more than 143 million people into “climate migrants” (#ClimateMigration) escaping crop failure, water scarcity, and sea-level rise, a new World Bank report concludes.

Most of this population shift will take place in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—three “hot spots” that represent 55 percent of the developing world’s populations.

The report, Groundswell—Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, also shifts the focus from cross-border migration, which has drawn global attention as refugees and migrants flee war, poverty and oppression, to in-country migration, which involves many more millions of people on the move in search of viable places to live.



Climate Migration Interactive Map.jpg


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