Climate Change, Migration and Critical International Security Considerations

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This report reviews the available scholarly reporting on climate change, migration and security and describes the legal and policy challenges facing the international community. While there is indeed considerable evidence that climate does influence migration, future estimates are hampered by a lack of reliable data. Climate-related migration is closely connected to the social, economic, cultural and institutional processes that shape the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of exposed populations. Conflict may potentially emerge in situations of resource scarcity and resource abundance, but in most cases there will be opportunities for intervention before violence occurs. Most climate change-driven migration is likely to occur with countries and regions, although there will be increased international movements along established migrant networks. To avoid large-scale distress migrations, the report outlines priority actions for policymakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance adaptive capacity in vulnerable regions, and provide assistance to those displaced.



Managing climate change-related migration when it emerges

If not altered, the combination of rising GHG emissions, population growth in highly exposed regions, and failure to build adaptive capacity among the most vulnerable will almost certainly lead to large-scale population displacements and migrations. Such migrations will likely begin within two decades, and will likely unfold in patterns similar to past climate-related migrations, with most migrants moving within their own countries or geographical regions. In some cases, these events may lead to the destabilization of governments, and may very well undermine regional economic productivity, thereby creating self-reinforcing stimuli for additional migration. A smaller but still significant number will use existing transnational communities and migration networks to make their way to developed nations as migrants, legal or otherwise, and will need to be accommodated and incorporated (McLeman and Hunter, 2010).


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