[BLOG] Climate Migrants – the new Refugee Crisis

WHAT WE DO

During the past years, Europe has faced a refugee crisis. A great amount of people had to flee their home country elsewhere due to war, violence or persecution. Even though people are displaced every day, Europe wasn’t prepared for the mass of people seeking help in the area. After Europe’s initial shock, it has now somewhat recovered. However, persons still have to flee their home country every day. On top of that, another “refugee” crisis could be on its way, and what Europe should have learned from the past years is that it needs to be ready to help those who are in need of it. What “refugee” crisis could be the next major change? The answer is climate migrants, or “persons displaced in the context of climate change”.

So, what’s the definition of a climate migrant? Climate migrants are people who must flee their homes because of climate change such as higher sea levels and warmer temperatures. They are a sub-group to environmental migrants, which are people who are forced to flee because of natural disasters. Environmental migrants are not internationally recognized as refugees. This means that they face greater political risks than other persons fleeing their home because of war or persecution do*. Actually, most countries don’t take climate change, global warming or natural disasters into account when granting asylum. The only exception is Finland and Sweden, where environmental migrants are sometimes included in official policies as “persons otherwise in need of protection”*.

The most recent period of climate change is global warming, and it forces people to flee. The human population contributes to global warming by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, for example. These activities release greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere*. Global warming can change weather patterns, increase droughts and storms, melt glaciers, increase sea levels, and change the behaviour of animals and plants*. It is difficult to estimate how many people have fled because of climate change and global warming. The most widely cited estimate is that by 2050, there will be around 200 million environmental migrants in the world*.

There are several areas in the world where it is becoming more and more difficult to live because of climate change. For example, sea level rise makes it difficult for people living in Bangladesh and in Maldives. It is predicted that Bangladesh will lose 17 % of its land by 2050, which could lead to as many as 20 million climate migrants. As for Maldives, tourism support about a quarter of the economy, but sea level rise makes it more and more difficult to support tourists and tourist facilities. Other cities that are vulnerable to sea level rise are Manhattan, New York; London, England; Mumbai, India; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; to name a few.

Another result of climate-change which causes people to flee is drought. For example, the Gobi desert in China is expanding fast, causing farmers and merchants to migrate to China’s crowded urban areas. Also, rural residents in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea engage in subsistence agriculture, meaning farmers producing enough crops only for their families and communities. They are threatened by starvation and poverty because of drought, resulting in overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya*.

Who might be receiving climate migrants in the future? At the moment, most climate migrants are internal migrants, and most countries facing extreme consequences because of climate change are developing countries. This is problematic, since developing countries are especially vulnerable to climate change and global warming and don’t have the ability to adapt to their new reality*. However, one can assume that if we don’t succeed with the Paris Agreement, countries least likely to be affected by climate change will receive a lot of climate migrants. These areas are Europe and North America (keeping in mind that there are state-, regional- and city-specific differences)*.

Climate migrants will most likely affect global politics in the near future. The world will face a wave of migrants and countries must be prepared. As already mentioned, climate migrants aren’t internationally recognized and one way to prepare is for countries to take climate change, global warming and natural disasters into account when granting asylum. Moreover, developed countries should take responsibility in finding climate change solutions. Finally, we need to work across national borders to share knowledge and resources. We are all affected by climate change and must include climate migrants in international co-operation.  


Laura Fagerlund

Laura Fagerlund

Advertisements

[BLOG] Finalizing the implementation of the Paris Agreement: a long and tenuous road

CONTRIBUTIONS, WHAT WE DO
article SofiaParties and observers meet for SB48 in Bonn, Germany

 

From April 30th until May 11th in Bonn, Germany was held the 48th sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).

What is it?

Every year, Parties to the UNFCCC meet to discuss international climate policy, what is known as COPs (Conference of Parties). Between each COP, Parties meet to advance technical matters and prepare negotiation texts during what are commonly called intersessionals. The last session was the 48th session (SB48) and aimed at advancing the elaboration of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), that is the guidelines which will enable the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the national level.

As a member of the think-and-do-tank CliMates, which is recognized as an observer organization to the UNFCCC, I had the chance to attend this conference during the second week of negotiations. It was the second time I attended international climate negotiations and as last time, I was excited to take part in this important gathering of world negotiators and observer organizations representatives.

What happened?

My expectations were high for this negotiations. Indeed, those were crucial for the elaboration of the PAWP which is supposed to be finalized and adopted at COP24, which will be held in Katowice, Poland in December 2018. Considering the amount of items that remain to be discussed, this conference was an important step towards the finalization of the implementation guidelines. Overall, the work on the PAWP moved forward by way of 21 different workstreams, and all of them made some, albeit small, progress. Unfortunately, negotiations went slower than expected and led to the decision of organizing an exceptional second intersessional which will take place in Bangkok in September 2018, a few month before COP24.

However, some of the work done in Bonn deserves to be highlighted. During week 1 for instance, Parties met for the Suva Expert Dialogue on Loss & Damage (1), a matter of great concern for countries already impacted by climate change. Parties also discussed the operational modalities of the newly adopted Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (2), as well as the Gender Action Plan (3) and the Global Stocktake (4). Finally, the SB48 was the occasion to reflect on the first session of the Talanoa Dialogue  (5) which took place a few days before the beginning of the intersessions.

 

Article Sofia 2
Joséphine Raynauld and myself speaking on behalf of YOUNGO, during the meeting of observer organization with Mrs. Executive Secretary Patricia Espinoza

 

Which place for civil society?

Civil society, including youth, was very active and organized several side-events and actions on, among other things, health and climate change, conflict of interest in international climate negotiations and short-term pollutants. Overall, being an observer at UNFCCC conferences is both frustrating (seeing many closed session, including those on transparency) and stimulating as we can perceive the will and energy of observers, including young people to trigger climate action and ambition. Indeed, UNFCCC processes are one of the few in which young people are given a voice and opportunity to take part in the debate, with other observer constituencies, such as business, researchers and women and gender.

1.  The Suva Expert Dialogue is an important step towards furthering collective understanding of approaches to address Loss & Damage, associated finance needs, and sources of support.
2. This platform aims at involving non-party stakeholders in UNFCCC process, including by sharing knowledge in the fight against climate change and its impacts.
3.The Gender Action Plan was adopted at COP23 with the goal to increase the participation of women in all UNFCCC processes.
4. The first Global Stocktake will take place in 2023 and will aim at taking stock of the progress made towards the achievement of the goal set under the Paris Agreement. The stocktake will take place every five years from 2023 and will help Parties know how much more remains to be done in order to limit global average temperature to 2°C.
5. The Talanoa Dialogue is the first Global Stocktake, albeit less ambitious. Its format aims at being participatory and inclusive and invites all parties to share their stories on climate change. The dialogue aims at addressing three questions: 1) Where are we? 2) Where do we want to go? 3) How do we get there? 

 


 

 

For more information on the takeaways of SB48 check this article by Climate Tracker.

Sofia

 

If you want to get involved in international climate negotiations, don’t hesitate to contact me at sofia.kabbej@climates.fr.

 

[TRAVEL] Lars is biking to Strasbourg for EYE2018 !

WHAT WE DO

This morning in Brussels, on Wednesday 23rd of May, Lars started his journey to reach Strasbourg by BIKE ! As a member of our delegation Youth for Climate Ambition, he chose to take his bike to join the European Youth Event 2018 in Strasbourg. He will travel for more than 500km and will cross 4 countries to reach his destination.

Concerned by the urgency of tackling climate change, Lars chose to reduce his carbon footprint and to use climate friendly transports for traveling to EYE2018.

IMG-20180523-WA0001

“From the 31stof May to the 2ndof June I will be representing community led initiatives on climate change and sustainability at the European Parliament! What? The third edition of the European Youth Event (EYE) is held and I am part of the You(th) for Climate Ambition Delegation! During the former two editions, thousands of young people came to Strasbourg to engage in discussions with European parliamentarians. In my mind I am already imagining what to talk about with the parliamentarians. But before that is a reality, I need to get to Strasbourg. To reduce my personal carbon footprint and challenge myself, I will take the bike from Brussels to Strasbourg!” Lars.