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Climate Refugees: A Call For International Relocation Action

EmmamHowe MA, United States 0 Ratings 13 Discussions 8 Group posts

Posted by: EmmamHowe // Marketing/Green Policy Development

The world is facing a new and ugly reality of anthropogenic climate change. As the planet warms, we’re seeing the sea levels rise, storms grow stronger and more variable, and fresh water supplies dwindle. In the past, when the use of fossil fuels did not present immediate dramatic climatological consequences, these horrific effects were considered “future costs,” with only a small number of environmentalists and scientists warning about the actual immediate negative effects. But as we’re now seeing this climatological phenomenon impact people’s livelihoods, human caused climate change can no longer be denied. Since 2009, an estimated one person every second has been displaced by a disaster, with an average of 22.5 million people displaced by climate- or weather-related events since 2008. This has now become a dire global reality, and we need to take action.

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's assessment, the planet is in for at least one to three feet of sea level rise by the end of the century. NASA scientists are warning that sea level is rising much faster than expected, believing the Earth could see as much as a 10 foot sea-level rise in as little as 50 years. Research reveals that an estimated 200 million people in coastal communities around the world will likely be displaced by 2050 due to climate change. But, it's not just low-lying island nations that will face the impacts of climate change. Research published in October 2015 found that 414 cities and towns in the U.S. “have already passed their lock-in date [for sea level rise], or the point at which it’s guaranteed that more than half the city’s populated land will eventually be underwater no matter how much humans decrease carbon emissions; it’s just a matter of when.”

Thus, as the reality of climate displacement draws nearer, international climate action is needed now more than ever. Unfortunately, relocation isn’t a simple solution, and these frightening, real climatic situations will likely spur a global fear surrounding climate displacement and “climate refugees.” However, there is hope, as some nations are already making progress to develop relocation plans. In fact, on October 13 2015, 110 countries participating in the Nansen Initiative’s final global consultation ahead of COP21 in Paris adopted a non-binding contract to protect those displaced by earthquakes, volcanoes, and other climate-related hazards. Stemming from this, the US government has crafted “climate resilience” grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change. The resettlement proposal argues these communities are “ideally positioned to develop and test resettlement adaptive methodologies," something that is badly needed around the world. As such, the plan aims to move families to a historically contextual and culturally appropriate community.

Though it is promising that the US is taking action, it is also important to note these relocation efforts will not be a simple, easily replicable process. As climate refugees are forced to move to another place to survive, this could very well spark conflict with other communities by increasing the number of people and the competition over an already limited amount of resources. Therefore, it does not seem there exists a simple global solution to this issue. But, there is hope that steps taken by the Unites States will draw international attention to climate refugees, and will help instigate further global action plans, funds, and relocation efforts as more and more communities are impacted by climate change.

For more information about “climate refugees” see:



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