Oxfam warns a person is displaced by extreme impacts every 2 seconds. Now.
As this year’s COP25 climate conference begins in Madrid, international NGO Oxfam is again focusing on the issue of climate migration with a new report. It insists the global community wake up to the reality that climate impacts are forcing millions of people from their homes now – not tomorrow.
From France’s repeat floods to the canals of Venice, and from Australia’s wildfires to Horn of Africa droughts and Pacific Ocean cyclones, each day seems to reinforce the Oxfam argument: More than 20 million people are internally displaced because of extreme weather each year, based on averages across the last 10 years. That’s as the reports of extreme-weather incidents causing displacement increased fivefold during the decade.
As an example, Oxfam points to Cyclone Fani, which triggered the evacuation and displacement of nearly 3.5 million people in Bangladesh and India in May. Similar numbers came from China and the Philippines in 2018, with broader Southeast Asia home to 80 percent of those displaced during the same time frame.
They’re also among the poorest nations in the world, and Oxfam made a clarion call to COP25 delegates to ensure that wealthy nations responsible for much of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions act in good faith to reduce their outsized footprints while financially assisting the nations most impacted.
“Current national emissions reduction pledges put the world on track for over 3°C of warming,” the Oxfam briefing said. “Last year the World Bank estimated that 140 million people across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America would be forced to move within their countries’ borders by 2050 if governments failed to agree to more ambitious climate action.”
The Oxfam briefing, drawn from Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre data, follows last week’s World Migration Report from the UN migration agency and its clear links between climate, conflict and migration.
The Oxfam authors also pointed to new research released in October that dramatically increased the number of people now living in zones likely to experience sea level rise that may make their homes uninhabitable. The authors of that report, Scott Kulp and Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central, said their more-accurate estimates of sea level rise tripled the estimated risk. Projections find that in 19 countries, including Nigeria, Brazil, Egypt and the United Kingdom, at least one million people currently live on at-risk land.
Yet “the bad news is again concentrated in Asia,” they added. “China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are home to the greatest number of people who today live on land that could be threatened by permanent inundation by 2100—151 million in total, and 43 million in China alone.”
Oxfam notes that the Madrid conference – relocated from Chile because of civil unrest but still under its leadership – will bring the first completion of a review cycle of the 2013 Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage and a part of its mandate, the Taskforce on Displacement. It was meant to ensure support for low-income and small island nations bearing the brunt of climate change. So far, the support from high-income nations has been a fraction of the $100 billion promised by 2020.
“This contentious issue is expected to have a significant impact on the overall politics of the negotiations,” Oxfam said. “A critical issue for many developing countries will be the lack of progress on funding to help poor countries and communities recover from loss and damage, including forced displacement.”
Below is a video on climate impacts produced by Oxfam … 10 years ago.