Migrants uprooted by climate change in the poorest parts of the world are likely to only move locally, contrary to predictions that hundreds of millions will descend on rich countries, according to a new study. The research from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a non-profit London-based think tank, challenges the common perception in the developed world that waves of refugees will try to move there permanently to escape the impact of global warming. For example, many farmers struggling to grow enough food as seasons change will leave their homes to look for work in nearby towns for short periods only, the study said. The study said uncertainty about the expected consequences of global warming � including more extreme weather and rising seas � and weak migration data make it difficult to forecast accurately how many people will be displaced by climate change. IIED researcher Cecilia Tacoli, the paper's author, said there was a risk that alarmism about climate-related migration in the developed world would lead to policies that fail to protect the most vulnerable people. The paper argues that, because most governments and international agencies view migration as a problem they need to control, they are missing opportunities to develop policies that could increase people's resilience to climate change. These include helping local governments and other institutions in small rural towns create jobs, provide basic services and share out natural resources more fairly. Even in small island nations and coastal regions threatened by rising seas, the numbers leaving their homes will depend on government and community measures to adapt land use and improve infrastructure and construction methods, the paper said.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.