Climate migration doesn’t have to be a crisis

“The 360” shows you various perspectives on the main stories and debates of the day.

What is happening

The Biden administration released a report on Wednesday that predicted that climate change will force “tens of millions” of people around the world to be displaced over the next decades. The report echoes findings from a number of previous studies which suggest that worsening climate impacts – sudden disasters like fires and storms, as well as more progressive issues like rising sea levels and drought – could displace up to 200 million people by 2050.

Climate change affects the whole world, but citizens of some low-income countries, from Central America to sub-Saharan Africa, are particularly vulnerable to climate-related displacement. Beyond the harm done to millions of people forced to leave their homes, climate migration could threaten the stability of resource-strapped countries and increase the risk of conflict between nations, according to a separate national security assessment released this week. week.

While the estimates paint a particularly grim picture of the future, some of the effects of climate displacement are already being felt around the world. The United Nations estimates that an average of 21.5 million people around the world are displaced by sudden disasters each year. Droughts and storms in Central America are believed to be one of the many reasons for the influx of migrants heading for the US-Mexico border in recent years. The Syrian civil war, which has created a devastating humanitarian crisis and displaced more than 13 million people over the past 10 years, has been partly attributed to a drought that has forced rural farmers to flock to urban areas.

Why there is debate

Worrisome as some predictions for the future are, several experts say that with proper preparation and investment, climate migration can be managed to limit suffering and prevent countries from descending into chaos.

A key step, according to most experts, is for wealthy countries like the United States to do everything in their power to prevent people from being forced to migrate in the first place. It starts by limiting greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. This would reduce the potential severity of storms, droughts and other factors that cause people to leave their homes. Rich countries must also offer help to poorer countries to adapt to climate change – for example, helping low-income countries build infrastructure to deal with higher sea levels and stronger storm surges. and cope with major population changes within their borders, as most climate migrants relocate to new regions of their country of origin.

Many also argue that the United States will need to update its immigration system to prepare for the unique challenges of managing climate migration. Some immigrant rights activists say climate displacement should be added to the list of reasons a person can claim refugee status. It is controversial on the left as well as on the right. However, experts generally agree that a more permissive immigration system – with less emphasis on aggressive border enforcement and more avenues to legally enter the country – could not only prevent unnecessary suffering. , but also create benefits for the US economy.

And after

Climate migration is expected to be one of the many important issues discussed by world leaders at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet for two weeks in the hope of reaching agreement on an emissions reduction strategy to avoid the worst potential impacts of climate change.


Strict immigration enforcement is not the answer

“States that have become addicted and accustomed to solving wall and weapon issues are responding to news of climate-related mobility by trying to push people away, in the hope of isolating themselves. … Not only will this cause ever more human suffering, but it will fail on its own terms. “- Todd Miller, independent

The chilling rhetoric about the threat of climate migration must end

“When most people think of ‘climate’ and ‘immigration’ they think globally, which can be scary. The idea that a changing and increasingly inhospitable climate will lead to mass migration is frightening. … But migration is, and always has been, a form of adaptation – and it can be a major benefit for host communities. – Claire Elise Thompson, Grist

Immigration laws need to be updated to recognize climate displacement

“The lack of legal migration opportunities forces many of those who move for climate reasons to do so without permission and at risk of exploitation and abuse. But the solutions are within our grasp. – Tamara Wood and Edwin Abuya, Thomson Reuters Foundation

With the right planning, climate migrants can help America thrive

“Migration can offer great opportunities not only for migrants but also where they go. As the United States and other parts of the Global North face a demographic decline, for example, an injection of new people into an aging workforce could be to everyone’s benefit. – Abrahm Lustgarten, New York Times

United States must provide significant support to vulnerable countries

“The best deterrent against migration is hope. We must provide the leadership that enables people

in our own hemisphere the chance to survive and prosper at home. – Cecilia Muñoz, La Colline

The climate should not be considered the only reason people leave their homes

“In general, illegal border crossings can be attributed to a number of factors: employment opportunities, drug trafficking, political changes and, yes, climate change. There is nothing wrong with drawing attention to these issues by looking at them on paper. But in order to fix a problem, you must first define it correctly. We can and must deal with the border crisis and climate change at the same time. But confusing the two only makes this task more difficult. – Sean-Michael Pigeon, National Review

Limiting climate change will reduce the need for climate migration in the first place

“The most useful thing the developed countries of the West can do to help threatened societies elsewhere is to quickly limit our own carbon emissions – because if we don’t and temperatures are rising uncontrollably, then Weak states around the world will surely fail. “- Anatol Lieven, Foreign Policy

We should start helping people move before their situation turns desperate

“Real change, such as relocating entire neighborhoods and communities out of harm’s way, would be much better managed not in times of crisis, when displaced people must weigh complex decisions amid chaos and loss, but before they go. a crisis does strike. – Alexandra Tempus, New York Times

Climate migrants can be a huge asset if given the right opportunities

“The more easily we make it possible for young people to move to places where they can contribute productively, for example by building more sustainable housing and irrigation systems, the better our chances in the turbulent decades to come. – Parag Khanna, National Geographic

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Photographic illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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