Will climate change cause more migrants than wars?

Climate change is one of the main drivers of migration and will be increasingly so. It will even have a more significant role in the displacement of people than armed conflicts, which today cause major refugee crises.

This was the warning sounded by Ovais Sarmad, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Sarmad is a specialist in commerce and financial management, and has worked for 27 years at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

While the Syrian conflict resulted in a million migrants seeking refuge in Europe, “the climate change impact will make one million look like a small number. Because a hundred or four hundred million people live in developing countries in low-lying areas, in cities which are very close to the sea. If sea level rises, then people will have to move.”

Can one speak in a strict sense of climate refugees? The international community has not yet validated that definition, but Sarmad believes that the issue must be considered, due to realities such as the sea level rise, increasingly destructive hurricanes or persistent droughts.

The issue of climate change is particularly controversial in the G20, because last year, under the German presidency, the United States did not adhere to the Action Plan on Climate and Energy Growth, which was endorsed by the rest of the member countries, leading many to conclude that the G20 had become the Group of 19+1.

 [Read full IPS article]

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