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Document Abstract
Published: 2016

Fleeing climate change: impacts on migration and displacement

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Global temperatures have now risen approximately 1°C above pre-industrial levels. This has already led to significant climatic changes in many places on the planet, thus, challenging food and nutrition security by reducing the productivity of agriculture and negatively affecting small-scale food producers. Climate change is also an increasingly decisive factor behind today’s growing number of people who migrate or who are forced into displacement from disaster and are in search of temporary shelter or options that are more permanent. In 2015, weather-related disasters displaced around 14.7 million people, almost twice the number of people (8.6 million) that fled conflict and violence. The links between climate change and displacement are complex, but they are receiving increasing attention. Research points to climate change as an interrelated driver and threat multiplier that interacts with, and reinforces, other factors that push people away from their homes, such as environmental degradation, poverty, and conflict. Thus, tackling poverty and tackling climate change go hand in hand: an intertwined relationship recently highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

This report presents existing findings in order to review the linkages between climate change and displacement. The report shows that the level of climate change mitigation and adaptation undertaken will significantly affect future levels of climate change displacement. Unless governments take strong preventive action and invest in adaptation, climate change-related phenomena such as floods, droughts, famines and hurricanes could push the total number of permanently displaced people as high as 250 million people, between now and 2050.

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