Angle: More migration due to climate change, support for rich countries is essential for a global response | Reuters

SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Marshall Islands Climate Change Ambassador Tina Stege lives on an atoll 2 meters above sea level and close to the sea. With “the ocean visible on both sides of the island almost everywhere”, there is no escaping sea level rise. Climate change is warming the oceans and melting ice around the world.

The atoll where Tina Stege, Marshall Islands special envoy for climate change, lives, is two meters above sea level and close to the sea. A man pushes a cart through floodwaters in Enagoa, Nigeria. FILE PHOTO: October 18, 2022. REUTERS/Tife Owolabi

In order to save 60,000 people in the Marshall Islands from rising sea levels over the next few years tens of billions of dollars will need to be invested in building houses and infrastructure, but not the money.

At the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) held in Egypt, Stege said, “My country does not have high ground. If we want to move to high ground, we must create it .”

Stege and the millions of people around the world who are being hit hard by rising sea levels, droughts, storms and other climate change who are struggling to stay at home could have to eventually choosing to migrate high.

“We should not be so lazy as to think that people will not move in the current situation,” said International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director General Vitorino, who said climate change was already “seriously affecting human mobility .” ” he pointed out.

It is almost impossible to accurately estimate how many people may migrate as the effects of climate change increase. The magnitude and timing of climate change shocks are difficult to predict, and whether people migrate depends on a wide range of factors, including the amount of recovery aid.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), around 23.7 million people were internally displaced by disasters last year, usually temporarily. Many of them were linked to extreme weather events.

By 2050, around 216 million people could be displaced within the country due to the effects of climate change, according to the World Bank, without serious and rapid action to tackle climate change.

Experts say that much of the migration linked to climate change is taking place within the country rather than leaving the country. But in small, low-lying island nations, internal relocation may not be an option.

It is also becoming difficult to distinguish between conflict refugees and migrants caused by climate change, said Michael Köhler, acting director general of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

In Africa’s Sahel region, for example, water shortages caused by drought and agricultural failures have split families, making it easier for extremist groups to recruit young people for income, fueling conflict, experts say.

Stopping migration linked to climate change will require more efforts and funding to help vulnerable people adapt to change and become more resilient to shocks, developing and small island developing countries say , said Rabab Fatima, the UN representative of “There is an urgent need for more money for adaptation in all these fragile countries,” she said. “A global surge in investment in adaptation is essential to save millions of lives from climate-related disasters,” he said.

Rich countries have pledged $100 billion annually by 2020 to help these countries grow cleanly and adapt to the threat of climate change. However, only some of them have been implemented, and this is a problem in the COP27 consultations.

But according to IOM’s Vitorino, in addition to spending on climate change adaptation, investing in better early warning systems and better life-saving techniques such as “predictive action” can also help prevent migration.

Predictive actions are measures such as distributing small amounts of cash to households a few days before a disaster is expected to help them prepare for it.

According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), 142,000 people received disaster preparedness cash transfers in 2020, five days before floods were expected in Bangladesh. As a result, households are less likely to run out of food during a disaster by a third.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) calculates that for every $1 of such aid implemented, $7 in compensation can be prevented.

However, Vitorino stressed that increased efforts to protect people will not stop all climate-related migration, and stressed the need for careful and “safe and orderly” migration plans.

(Correspondent Laurie Goering)

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