By Monika Jamwal
As the threat of climate change increases globally, it’s no surprise that living conditions are becoming more precarious around the world.
The varying degrees of extreme weather events have shown that the earth is experiencing an obvious shift in its climate patterns. Floods, heat waves, and unpredictable weather are becoming much more common, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world.
As per the international thinktank the IEP, around 1.2 billion people could be displaced globally by 2050 due to climate change and natural disasters.
Nineteen countries facing the highest number of threats, including water and food shortages and greater exposure to natural disasters, are also among the the world’s 40 least peaceful countries, the IEP’s report found.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an annual average of 21.5 million people have been forcibly displaced by weather-related events – such as floods, storms, wildfires and extreme temperatures – since 2008.
“Since 2010, weather emergencies have forced around 21.5 million people a year to move, on average” said the agency.
In its latest report on Earth Day 2022, the agency said, roughly 90 per cent of refugees come from countries that are the most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“These countries also host around 70 per cent of people internally displaced by conflict or violence” it said.
Weather-related crises have triggered more than twice as much displacement as conflict and violence in the last decade, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said.
Many of the countries most exposed to the impacts of climate change are already host to large numbers of refugees and internally displaced.
In Bangladesh, more than 870,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar are now exposed to increasingly frequent and intense cyclones and flooding.
It pointed to indications that 16.9 million Afghans – nearly half of the country’s population – lacked enough food in the first quarter of 2021, including at least 5.5 million facing emergency levels of food deprivation.
As of mid-2020, more than 2.6 million Afghans were internally displaced and another 2.7 million were living as registered refugees in other countries, mainly Pakistan and Iran, according to UNHCR.
“We need to invest now in preparedness to mitigate future protection needs and prevent further climate caused displacement,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, earlier this year.
This means acknowledging that climate change does not just pose a threat by causing immediate harm to people and infrastructure, it is also a long-term danger that can slowly destabilize societies and economies, making them more vulnerable to other threats.
Take for instance sea-level rise, over the past 30 years, the number of people living in coastal areas at high risk of rising sea levels has increased from 160 million to 260 million, 90 percent of whom are from poor developing countries and small island states.
The ultimate solution is to curtail climate change by achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement to limit temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius (°C) and ideally to 1.5°C.