Refugees International Raises Alarm on New UN Climate Change Report

New Climate Report Warns World on Course for More
Displacement, Conflict, and Poverty

Refugees International (RI) is deeply alarmed by the findings of a new scientific report concluding that – absent immediate and ambitious action by governments – climate change will have severe and irreversible real life impacts on hundreds of millions of people, especially those living in the poorest regions of the globe. RI is particularly concerned by findings that increased levels of global warming will contribute to human displacement, migration, and conflict by mid-century.

Under the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement countries of the world agreed to keep global temperatures “well below” 2°C (approximately 3.6°F) and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C (approximately 2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels. The agreement also called on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prepare a report in 2018 to assess the implications of meeting those goals.

The report, issued on October 8, paints a distressing picture of the world in the decades to come should we fail to limit warming to 1.5°C. At present, global average temperatures have already increased by 1°C. Worse yet, the world is currently on a path to see warming of 3°C unless countries take immediate action to drastically reduce emissions. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C “could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050.”

More forced migration, conflict, and poverty

The report makes clear that climate change projections will contribute to human displacement, migration, and conflict. Extreme weather events already displace upwards of 20 million people per year on average. The report forecasts more extreme precipitation and higher levels of sea level rise and finds with “high confidence” that increased drought will drive forced migration and sustained conflict in certain regions. Least developed countries and indigenous peoples, the report finds, will be particularly impacted.  

Loud and clear warning on need to reverse course

Avoiding this fate is within the power of the global leaders. But doing so will require immediate and urgent action to mitigate the causes of climate change especially here in the United States, and to support the least developed countries to adapt to climate change that has occurred and will continue. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has frustrated global efforts to combat climate change. Not only has President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, but his administration has also dismantled laws and policies designed to curb U.S. emissions.

This must change. The findings of the report are loud and clear. It’s time to put politics aside and to focus instead on finding solutions. Not doing so is to condemn future generations to greater levels of poverty, conflict, displacement, and forced migration.