Journalism and the environment

05. Climate migration: why it is urgent to limit temperature rises /

Today we will be shining a light on an alarming statistic. Last year ecological factors and conflict led to the displacement of some 30 million people. This figure could rise to one billion by 2050 according to a new analysis of global ecological threats.

What are the causes? Food insecurity, water scarcity and population growth.

But also natural disasters, such as cyclones, rising sea levels and rising temperatures.

With the global population projected to reach 10 billion by 2050, which countries and regions are the most at risk?

The fact is, the 19 countries facing the highest number of ecological threats are also among the world’s forty least peaceful countries. These include Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Chad, India and Pakistan. According to the report, more than one billion people living in sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East will be forced to migrate by 2050.

This will have huge social and political impacts around the world. As mass displacement in developing countries will lead to larger refugee flows to more developed countries. With 60% less fresh water available than 50 years ago, food demand expected to rise by 50% in the next 30 years … the fact is, under these circumstances, even stable countries will be vulnerable by 2050.

The international community must therefore drastically increase its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, so as to mitigate global warming. But not only.

These efforts must be combined with robust development planning at a country level.

Now let’s look at two countries with very different climatic, demographic, migration, livelihood and development patterns. These countries are Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

If nothing is done to tackle climate change and promote growth, sub-Saharan Africa could see more than 86 million internal climate migrants by 2050, according to a 2018 World Bank report.

Ethiopia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in Africa. Why? Because of its rain-fed agriculture. According to projections, its population will grow by 60 to 85 percent by 2050. This will place additional strain on the country’s natural resources and institutions.

This is why Ethiopia is currently trying to diversify its economy and prepare for increased internal climate migration.

Let’s change continents. And head to South Asia, which will have 40 million internal climate migrants by 2050, one third of these will be in Bangladesh.

According to the World Bank report’s worst-case scenario, water shortages and a decrease in agricultural productivity caused by climate change could lead to major population shifts.

And the fact is, close to half of the country’s population depends on agriculture.

Bangladesh has already undertaken initiatives in different sectors such as water, forestry and agriculture … to mainstream climate adaptation strategies into its development plans. In the northwest of the country, the authorities are even encouraging seasonal labour migration during the dry season.

Countries will be locked into a certain level of internal climate migration. A growing number of people will face displacement unless greenhouse gas emissions are brought under control.

Urgent action is therefore needed to limit temperature increase to less than 2 °C by the end of the century. People’s livelihoods and ecosystems are at stake.

A CFI project in partnership with France Médias Monde

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