Climate change could force more than 200 million people to leave their homes over the next three decades and create migration hotspots unless urgent action is taken to reduce global emissions and close the development gap, according to a World Bank report.
The second part of the Groundswell report released on Monday examines how slow-onset climate change impacts such as water scarcity, declining crop productivity and rising sea levels could lead to millions of what the report describes as “climate migrants” by 2050 within three years. different scenarios with varying degrees of climate action and development.
In the most pessimistic scenario, with a high level of emissions and uneven development, the report predicts that up to 216 million people will move within their own country in the six regions analyzed. These regions are Latin America; North Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; South Asia; and East Asia and the Pacific.
In the most climate-friendly scenario, with low emissions and inclusive and sustainable development, the number of migrants could be up to 80% lower but still result in the displacement of 44 million people.
The report did not examine the short-term impacts of climate change, such as the effects on extreme weather events.
The results “reaffirm the power of climate to induce migration within countries,” said Viviane Wei Chen Clement, senior climate change specialist at the World Bank and one of the report’s authors.
In the worst-case scenario, sub-Saharan Africa – the region most vulnerable due to desertification, fragile coastlines and the population’s dependence on agriculture – would experience the most movements, with as many as 86 million people. climate migrants moving within national borders.
North Africa, however, is expected to have the highest proportion of climate migrants, with 19 million people on the move, equivalent to around 9% of its total population, mainly due to increasing water scarcity on the land. north-east coast of Tunisia, north-west coast of Algeria. , western and southern Morocco, and the central foothills of the Atlas, according to the report.
In South Asia, Bangladesh is particularly affected by floods and crop failures accounting for nearly half of the predicted climate migrants, with 19.9 million people, including a growing share of women, moving by 2050 in a pessimistic scenario.
The report did not examine climate migration across borders.
“Globally, we know that three out of four people who move stay within countries,” said Dr Kanta Kumari Rigaud, senior environment specialist at the World Bank and co-author of the report.
Yet rural-to-urban migration patterns often precede cross-border movements.
While the influence of climate change on migration is not new, it is often part of a combination of factors driving people to move and acts as a threat multiplier. People affected by conflict and inequality are also more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because they have limited means to adapt.
The report also warns that migration hotspots could emerge over the next decade and intensify by 2050. Planning is needed both in areas where people will settle and in areas where people will settle. they leave to help those who remain.
Among the recommended actions were achieving “net zero emissions by mid-century to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C” and investing in “green, resilient and inclusive development,” in accordance with the Paris Agreement ”.
Clément and Rigaud warned that the worst-case scenario is “plausible” if no collective action to reduce emissions and invest in development is taken, especially over the next decade.
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