Thursday, 24 January 2019

Climate refugees on the increase

The shorelines of Bangladesh are not a secure place to build a home: 

A woman in Bangladesh uses bales of straw to try to protect a riverbank that is eroding away from floodwaters. Much of the country is ground zero for a global climate crisis. PHOTOGRAPH BY G.M.B. AKASH, PANOS PICTURES/RE​DUX


Climate change creates a new migration crisis for Bangladesh


The country, already grappling with the Rohingya crisis, now faces a devastating migration problem as hundreds of thousands face an impossible choice between battered coastlines and urban slums.

Climate change creates a new migration crisis for Bangladesh

Meanwhile, the US national security apparatus is worried about the impacts of climate change across the globe:
Futures Forum: Climate change: and the increased risks of global conflict ... the evidence ... (February 2015)
Futures Forum: Climate change: and 'security' (November 2015)

And their concerns are growing: 

Intelligence community: Warming could spark migration

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2019

A new assessment by the National Intelligence Council warns that climate change could contribute to a growing number of refugees who flee violent conflicts that erupt from competition over food and other resources. It comes as President Trump rolls back programs to address climbing temperatures.

Then there is the refugee crisis in Syria - and to what extent it has been brought about by climate change:
Futures Forum: Climate change 'will foster terrorism and fuel immigration' (January 2015)
Futures Forum: Peak oil, climate change and pipeline geopolitics driving conflict (January 2017)

These questions have been raised by an academic study just published:
Climate, conflict and forced migration - ScienceDirect
Causal link between climate, conflict, and migration -- ScienceDaily

As reported today: 

Study links climate change and war refugees

Jean Chemnick, E&E News reporter Climatewire: Thursday, January 24, 2019

A group of about 200 migrants walking north in a caravan this past fall toward the border of Guatemala and Mexico. Biba/EFE/Newscom

Researchers in the United Kingdom have found the strongest link yet between climate change, conflict and migration.

The report released yesterday by authors at the University of East Anglia looked at asylum applications for 157 countries between 2006 and 2015. It found that in certain years and certain contexts, warming-related drought sparked conflicts that sent refugees abroad.

The study found the clearest climate fingerprint on the violent conflicts that erupted in western Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa between 2011 and 2015 and that resulted in migration. Climate change had a hand in the Arab Spring uprising in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Syria between 2010 and 2012.

Outward migration after those conflicts is indirectly linked to climate change, according to the report.

"We can say the effect of climate change on migration is causal, and it operates through conflict," said Raya Muttarak, one of the report's co-authors.

She stressed that climate change may also contribute to low agricultural yields and gross domestic product — conditions that might set the stage for conflict or compel people to leave a country. Political and other factors may make a country more or less prone to violent conflict or outward migration. The research accounts for those factors but focuses on places where climate-fueled conflict cost human life.

Syria is a case in point. Its bloody eight-year-old civil war followed years of droughts and crop failures that caused an internal migration of Syrian farmers into city slums already crowded with Iraqi war refugees. President Bashar al-Assad's response to the humanitarian and economic hardships led to political unrest that then erupted into war. Refugees of that conflict continue to seek asylum in neighboring countries, the European Union and beyond.

The UEA study comes at a time when defense agencies, global finance and the United Nations are all grappling with the threat climate change poses to global stability. The Pentagon sent Congress a report last week calling warming "a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations" (Greenwire, Jan. 18; see related story).

And climate issues, ranging from more weather disasters to scarce water resources, topped a list of economic threats ranked by business and finance leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (Climatewire, Jan. 22).

Tomorrow, the U.N. Security Council is set to hold a debate in New York on "addressing the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security."

The United Nations' most influential body has so far been hesitant to make the link between climate and security, and observers say it hasn't built the capacity and expertise needed to fully integrate climate concerns into its work. Doing so will require the council to spend resources and pay attention to stressors and countries it's had little to do with before, like the Dominican Republic.

The Caribbean nation has made climate change the top priority of its first turn on the Security Council, which began this month and includes chairing Friday's debate. But while small island nations in the Caribbean and South Pacific are ground zero for climate-induced disasters like sea-level rise, they've rarely ranked as hotbeds of terrorism or armed conflict.

Still, Camilla Born, senior policy adviser on risk and security issues at the U.K.-based E3G, said the Security Council must move beyond its 20th-century conception of what constitutes a security risk to look at nontraditional issues like displacement and migration, both of which can be destabilizing.

"The reality is that climate change is shaping the conversations that they're having in the Security Council now," she said. "And increasingly, that's becoming unavoidable."

CONFLICT: Study links climate change and war refugees -- Thursday, January 24, 2019 -- www.eenews.net

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