Climate crisis could displace 1.2 billion people by 2050, report warns

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The Ecological Threats Register, produced by the Sydney-based Institute for Economy and Peace (IEP), predicted that up to 1.2 billion people worldwide could be displaced by 2050. No country will be able to escape the impact of the climate crisis – but the world’s poorest and most vulnerable will be hit hardest.

“Ecological threats and climate change pose serious challenges to global development and peace,” the report says. “The least resilient countries in the world, when faced with ecological blackouts, are more likely to experience civil unrest, political instability, social fragmentation and economic collapse. ”

The report drew on data from international organizations such as the United Nations, the Observatory on Internal Displacement, the Food and Agriculture Organization and previous IEP research on the levels of resilience of country. Using these numbers, the IEP then calculated the relative threats of population growth, water stress, food insecurity, droughts, floods, cyclones, and rising temperatures and sea levels.

He revealed that more than a billion people live in 31 countries with low resilience, which means they are not equipped to withstand the impact of ecological change in the decades to come.

The regions facing the greatest number of threats are sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, according to the report.“Not all of these people will be displaced, but it is likely that a large number of them will,” the IEP said.

Better-resourced countries in countries like North America and Europe will be better able to cope with the effects of these disasters – but they will likely face huge inflows of climate refugees, the report warns.

“This will have enormous social and political impacts, not only in developing countries, but also in developed countries, as the massive displacement will result in larger refugee flows to more developed countries,” said the founder of IEP, Steve Killelea, in a press release. that ecological change was “the next great global threat to our planet”.

Food and water shortage

The world population currently stands at 7.8 billion. That number is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 – putting a strain on the world’s already depleted natural resources, the report said, citing data from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Most of this population growth is expected to take place in countries experiencing armed conflict, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report.

Citing research from the global nonprofit World Resource Institute, the report predicted that by 2050, global demand for food will increase by 50% and 3.5 billion people could be food insecure.

Water scarcity can be an even bigger problem – already over 2.6 billion people face high or extreme water stress, which means they don’t have enough water for their needs. or that their water supply may be disrupted, the report said.

Climate change has caused disrupted rainfall, rising temperatures and other ecological impacts that are already creating water crises – in 2019, Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, nearly ran out of water . Water had to be trucked daily from other states, with people lining up for hours in the sun to fill jugs with their daily water ration.

By 2040, a total of 5.4 billion people – more than half of the projected global population – will live in countries facing high or extreme water stress. India and China, the two most populous countries in the world, will be among those countries, according to the report.

It could also lead to even more serious violence and conflict, which not only destabilizes economies and governments, but leads to massive migration. In the last decade alone, violent water incidents have increased by 270% globally, the IEP said, citing water solutions company WorldWater.

Natural disasters

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in natural disasters around the world, which experts have long warned are symptoms of a worsening climate crisis – from wildfires raging in California, to heat waves in across Europe, fears of a dam collapse in China and a record. hurricane in the southern United States.

Asia-Pacific was the worst affected region; 29% of all natural disasters in the last 30 years have taken place there, the study found. Europe has recorded the second highest number of natural disasters in the world.

In 2019, India faced the largest population displacement due to natural disasters, with 5 million people having to leave their homes, according to the study. Globally, natural disasters displaced 25 million people last year – and the numbers will likely continue to rise, the research team found.

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And these natural disasters hit the poorest countries hardest; they kill seven times more people in least developed countries than in highly developed countries, according to the report, using socio-economic indicators from previous IEP research on ecological resilience. This is not because disasters in the poorest countries occur more frequently or with greater severity – but because these countries are less able to handle the shock.

All of these threats combined will create a migration crisis which can then have side effects such as increased political instability, global insecurity and greater hostility towards immigrants.

International cooperation and climate-related foreign aid will be essential to mitigate these effects and help developing countries build their resilience, according to the report. This type of international aid has already multiplied by 34 between 2000 and 2018 as the full extent of the crisis became clear – but they “are still far from what is needed to resolve these problems in the future”, warns The report.

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