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Home > Smart Living> Environment > Over 200 million will be forced to move because of climate change

Over 200 million will be forced to move because of climate change

A look at key highlights from the World Bank's new Groundswell report, which explains how climate change could affect internal migration globally by 2050

A woman crosses a river using the remains of a bridge, swept away during flooding the previous year, at Malela village in Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi on September 13. As many as 216 million people could move within their own countries due to slow-onset climate change impacts by 2050.
A woman crosses a river using the remains of a bridge, swept away during flooding the previous year, at Malela village in Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi on September 13. As many as 216 million people could move within their own countries due to slow-onset climate change impacts by 2050. (AFP)

The World Bank released the second part of its Groundswell report this week and warned that climate change could force 216 million people across six regions in the world to move within their countries by 2050.

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While the first part of the Groundswell report, released in 2018, looked at the impact of climate migration in the Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America regions, part two of the report focuses on three new regions: East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Also read: South India may face intense flooding every year due to global warming

According to the report, the combined results across the six regions show that without early and concerted climate and development action, as many as 216 million people could move within their own countries due to slow-onset climate change impacts by 2050. Here’s a look at some more key highlights from the landmark report.

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What does the report say about climate change?

The report says climate change is a “powerful driver” of internal migration because of its impact on people’s livelihoods and the loss of livability in highly exposed locations. While there are many reasons people leave their homes -- social, political and economic -- the report says climate change needs to be included in this to see a “complete” picture of patterns of mobility. Climate change is a trend that is expected to increase over time, the report adds, and no region is “immune” to climate change. The report includes projections and analysis for East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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How are these projections made?

These projections are based on a “scenario-based approach”. The report explores potential future outcomes: ones that can help decision-makers plan ahead. The approach allows for the identification of internal climate in- and out- migration hotspots. These are areas from which people are expected to move due to situations such as increasing water scarcity, declining crop productivity, and sea-level rise, and urban and rural areas with better conditions to build new livelihoods. Such “hotspots” of climate migration could emerge within countries as early as 2030, the report adds.

In this July 2016 file photo, a flood-affected family with their goats travel on a boat in the Morigaon district, of Assam. The report examines how long-term impacts of climate change such as water scarcity, decreasing crop productivity and rising sea levels could lead to millions of what the report describes as ‘climate migrants’ by 2050.
In this July 2016 file photo, a flood-affected family with their goats travel on a boat in the Morigaon district, of Assam. The report examines how long-term impacts of climate change such as water scarcity, decreasing crop productivity and rising sea levels could lead to millions of what the report describes as ‘climate migrants’ by 2050. (AP)

How many people could potentially be affected by internal climate migration?

More than 200 million. Taken together, the projections across all the regions out to 2050 estimate that Sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal climate migrants; East Asia and the Pacific, 49 million; South Asia, 40 million; North Africa, 19 million; Latin America, 17 million; and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 5 million.

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Can the scale of this migration be reduced in any way?

The extensive report also includes policy recommendations that can help slow the factors driving climate migration and prepare for expected migration flows. These include reducing global emissions, including internal climate migration in long-term development planning and planning for internal climate migration. This would mean accounting for all phases of migration—before, during, and after moving, the report explains. The report says global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could “dramatically slow the rise in internal climate migration”. In a more climate-friendly scenario, the number of internal climate migrants would be as much as 80 percent lower by 2050 across the six regions.

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