Climate Migration is a Phrase to Keep in Mind… And Act On

Mauritania Village Struck by Drought (Photo: United Nations Photo /

According to a survey for the Munich Security Conference (MSC) published on February 12, European voters are increasingly worried about “migration through war and climate change” and about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. This is according to the latest Munich Security Index survey, which has data from 12 000 people in the G7 countries, as well as Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. Extreme climate change events are seen as isolated cases today, but in the coming decades, they will be a driving force behind the displacement of hundreds of millions of people.

The Munich Security Conference survey, which focused on 32 perceived risks, found that threats concerning climate migration and war are now viewed as even more important than a security threat posed by Russia, which ranked fourth overall this year. The greatest threat to international security, especially among the G7 nations, was judged to be Russia’s war on Ukraine in the survey from last year. “(The) crucial capability gap in European defence is still political leadership,” the report notes in reference to that matter.

The report cautioned that France and Germany in particular were being inactive. According to polls conducted in conjunction with the report, Westerners are less optimistic about the state of the economy and the extent of potential threats than citizens of the BRIC nations—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. According to the report, this causes common economic areas and security structures to become less relevant rather than more so.

The MSC report stated that governments’ main concern nowadays is “that they will benefit less than others.” This means that leaders prioritize their nation’s security and well-being over global advancement, which could start a dangerous downward spiral, the report warned.

Though security is given top priority, most governments’ isolationist policies will have disastrous effects because, when seen through the prism of migration and securitization, climate change can affect people very differently.

Climate Change: Easy to Water Down, Uncommon to Link

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi appealed to global leaders at the COP27 climate change conference to take bold action to tackle the humanitarian consequences of global warming. That change needs to be “transformational” according to the UNHCR. “We cannot leave millions of displaced people and their hosts to face the consequences of a changing climate alone,” said Grandi.

Without action, hundreds of millions people will have to leave their homes by 2050, according some estimates. The 2018 World Bank report Groundswell, which Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications and a senior research scientist at the Earth Institute’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network and Susana Adamo worked on, cited estimates that 30 to 143 million climate migrants may be forced from their homes by climate change impacts by 2050.

Sherbinin said, “Climate change, if it’s not currently the main driver of migration, tends to operate indirectly, and will continue to do that. But as the number of severe and extreme weather events or climate-related disasters increases, we’re going to see more migration and more of that may be directly triggered by it.”

The majority of current migration is a reaction to sudden occurrences, like severe weather, and typically leads to temporary relocation within the individual’s own nation. This happens more than three times as frequently as international migration and is inherently simpler than moving abroad. However, frequent transient relocation frequently results in permanent relocation. As the effects of climate change worsen and living conditions in some areas gradually deteriorate, affecting livelihoods, access to clean water, land productivity, and food security, an increasing number of people will probably be forced to leave their homes and possibly cross international borders.

Climate Change Will Induce Massive Migration

The Groundswell research concentrated on migration in Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, which together account for 55% of the world’s developing population. It predicted that 143 million people from these regions will have to relocate within their own nations in order to escape the effects of climate change if we do not take decisive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist emerging countries. After 2050, migration may potentially increase as a result of more severe climate effects and population expansion. Between 31 and 72 million might be the number if we can take action to stop climate change.

Extreme heat waves, dwindling snowpack that replenishes river basins, rising sea levels, and decreased crop yields are all factors that will push people out of “hot spots,” which include low-lying urban areas, coastal regions, and areas with scarce water supplies. These migrants will inevitably move to areas with better work prospects and a more favorable environment for agriculture.

According to another estimate, by 2050, the area inhabited by 150 million people may be impacted by increased tides brought on by sea level rise. By 2100, 300 million people might be impacted and as many as 480 million could be if the Antarctic ice sheets melt more quickly. Eight Asian nations—China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan—are home to 70% of those who would be impacted.

Who Adapts to the Adaptation that is Climate Migration?

Migration can be considered an adaptation to climate change, as those facing increasingly dire living situations who have the means will likely move. The majority of people prefer to stay at home, but if they feel forced to, they will typically relocate from a rural area to a nearby city. These cities risk overpopulation if they don’t have the resources or infrastructure to accommodate more people.

Furthermore, migrants who lack resources and opportunity frequently settle in slums, which are more vulnerable to the effects of chaos and climate change. Currently, half of the world’s population lives in cities. According to World Bank estimates, by 2050, 67% of people will be urban dwellers, with 40% of them expected to live in slums by 2030.



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