Climate change could drive more than 200 million people out of their homes over the next three decades, creating hotbeds of migration unless urgent action is taken, according to a World Bank report.
The measures, according to the institution, involve the global reduction of polluting emissions and for filling development gaps.
The second part of the Groundswell report, released this Monday, analyzes how the slow impacts of climate change, such as water scarcity, reduced productivity and rising sea levels, can lead to millions of “climate migrants” by 2050, in three different scenarios, depending on climate action and development.
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September 13, 2021
In the most pessimistic scenario, with a high level of emissions and an uneven development, the authors of the work predict more than 216 million people to move from their countries in the six analyzed regions.
These regions are Latin America, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific.
In the most favorable scenario, with a low level of emissions and even sustainable development, the number of migrants could be 80% lower, but still cause the displacement of 44 million people.
The report does not analyze the short-term impacts of climate change, such as the effects of extreme weather events.
The findings “reaffirm the potential for climate to induce migration in countries,” said Viviane Wei Chen Clement, senior climate change expert at the World Bank and one of the report’s authors.
In the worst case scenario, sub-Saharan Africa — the most vulnerable region due to desertification, fragile coastlines and a population dependent on agriculture — would see the biggest movement, with more than 86 million climate migrants.
North Africa, however, may have the highest proportion of climate migrants, with 19 million people moving, equivalent to 9% of the total population, due essentially to increasing water scarcity on the northeast coast of Tunisia, in northwest coast of Algeria, west and south of Morocco and in the central foothills of the Atlas, according to the report.
In South Asia, Bangladesh is particularly affected by flooding and crop destruction, responsible for nearly half of climate migrants, with 19.9 million people, including an increase in the percentage of women, moving by 2050, in the scenario pessimistic.
This is our humanitarian reality right now and we are concerned it will be even worse, where vulnerability is most acute”, said Maarten van Aalst, director of the International Climate Center of the Red Cross, who was involved in the report.
The report did not focus on climate migrants at the borders.
Globally we know that three out of four people who move stay in the countries”, said Kanta Kumari Rigaud, a leading environmental expert at the World Bank and co-author of the report.
However, patterns of migration from rural to urban areas often predate movements to the borders.
While the influence of climate change on migration is not new, it is often part of a combination of factors pushing people to leave and acts as a multiple threat.
People affected by conflict and inequality are more vulnerable to climate change because they have limited means to adapt.
The report’s authors also warn that migration hotspots could emerge in the next decade and intensify through 2050.
Planning is needed on both sides, in areas where people will move and where they leave, to help those who stay.