What Are Climate Migrants & Why Should We Care?

Climate change has already displaced thousands of individuals. It is no surprise that the coming decades could see a vast increase in the number of people who are forced out of their homes as a result of global warming. Climate change poses a huge treat to many vulnerable populations across the globe. A number of communities have already made the difficult and stressful decision to relocate in the face of climate-related phenomena. If we don’t change our ways, this occurrence is sure to become much more commonplace in the future.  

What Are Climate Migrants?

Climate migrants are persons or groups of persons who predominantly for reasons of progressive or sudden changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either permanently or temporarily, and who move within their own country or abroad.   

People can also be environmentally displaced. An environmentally displaced person refers to persons who are displaced within their country of habitual residence or who have crossed an international border and for whom environmental degradation, deterioration or destruction is a major cause of their displacement, although not necessarily the sole one. The term disaster displacement is also relevant here.   

It refers to situations, where people are forced or obliged to leave their places or homes of habitual residence, where people are forced or obliged to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of disasters triggered by natural hazards. Such displacement can occur within a country, or across international borders.   

How Likely Is Climate Migration? 

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At the end of 2019, around 5.1 million individuals in 95 countries and territories were living in displacement as a result of disasters. These disasters took place not only in 2019 but also in previous years. 

The countries with the highest number of internally displaced persons were Afghanistan (1.2 million), India (590,000), Ethiopia (390,000), Philippines (364,000) and Sudan (272,000). In the first half of 2020, disasters displaced around 9.8 million people. In addition, disasters remained the leading trigger of new internal displacements globally.   

Five countries accounted for nearly 75% of the new internal displacements due to disasters in the first half of 2020. They were India (2.7 million), Bangladesh (2.5 million), Philippines (811,000), China (791,000) and Somalia (514,000). In 2019, almost 2,000 disasters triggered 24.9 million new internal displacements across 140 countries and territories; this is the highest figure recorded since 2012 and three times the number of displacements caused by conflict and violence.   

Most of the disaster displacements were the result of monsoon rains and tropical storms in South Asia, East Asia and Pacific. Four countries accounted for more than 17 million new internal displacements due to disaster. They were Indian (5 million), the Philippines (4.1 million), Bangladesh (4.1 million) and China (4 million).  

This Could Be Us 

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Now that you know the facts and some statistics, you are probably thinking ‘oh well that’s far away, that won’t be us’. However, it is very possible that this could be a reality for us. This is not just occurring because they live far away or because of they are working class. 

Rather, they are living in areas where disasters are likely to occur as we all are. They just got the first hits. I am writing this article from Ireland. An island and this could very much be the reality for us in Ireland.   

Islands are surrounded by water and one of the major threats of climate change is that countries will be flooded with water. Climate migration is very likely when you live in a country surrounded fully by water.   

However, it’s not just Ireland, this could be any of us. Bushfires, droughts, storms gone wild and the other various climate disasters can happen anywhere despite your economic status and living in a privileged country. According to the Guardian on a recent report, the climate crisis could displace up to 1.2 billion people by 2050. 

In Summary 

Climate migration is already happening as we speak. People’s homes are being destroyed and their living areas are becoming unliveable. They have to leave to find other places to live which is not always a simple task. Climate migration is the reality for us if we do not attempt to slow down the progression of climate change. In terms of what we can do to avoid this, we all need to do our part.  

Individuals need to try their best to adopt sustainable lives. Governments need to work harder on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals that will save our beautiful world from destruction. Businesses need to start adopting sustainable business models that can have profit with purpose. There really is no Planet B, we are running out of time. The time to act is now.

Picture credit www.odi.org