The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, published last month, warns that Earth will cross the critical 1.5 C temperature threshold by 2030, 10 years before previously estimated.
For context, two degrees of warming used to be considered the threshold of catastrophe. The threshold separating life as we know it, and the alarmist predictions of tens of thousands of climate refugees roaming around inhospitable and unprepared earth.
Now 1.5 – 2 degrees is our goal, and experts predict slim odds of hitting it.
The following three-part series will explore the key pillars of climate action – mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage – and the ways through which they have the potential to avert, minimise and address displacement in the context of climate change.
No single impact of climate change manifests the sense of insecurity more than the loss of habitability that triggers displacement. As environmental insecurities exacerbate pre-existing social, economic, political and developmental issues, evacuations from climate disasters are increasing in frequency, seasonal migration to and from liveable places is impacting larger populations, internal population flows are growing, and in some cases, spilling over borders.
Now is the decade for action, and the upcoming Conference of the Parties – COP26, set to take place in Glasgow in November, will be a critical juncture in the race to commit all the countries of the world to limit global warming. Failing to do so, will be condemning future generations to a shrunken world of uninhabitable, or horrifically inhospitable land.
COP26 must deliver solidarity, ambition and commitment to mitigate the effects of global heating. It presents one of the key remaining opportunities for the global community to scale up action to prevent displacement in the context of climate change where possible and where this is no longer an option, to protect, support and empower those displaced.
Effective climate mitigation efforts have the potential to reduce, and in many cases prevent, the risk of disaster and climate related displacement. Limiting greenhouse gas emissions and resultant temperature increases, remains a key factor in safeguarding the social, environmental and economic security of climate vulnerable communities.
COP26 must drive greater ambition from major emitters and mobilize accessible and consistent finance flows towards low greenhouse gases emissions and climate-resilient development. It is crucial mitigating efforts and climate financing acknowledge and act on the imbalances in climate induced production, benefit and distribution of harm.
The accumulation of localised factors which trigger displacements – such as increased climate uncertainty, food insecurity, loss of land due to rising seas and countless more – must be viewed as the collateral effects of a failing global structure. COP26 must deliver a clear pact for ambition, action and finance delivery in global solidarity. It is no longer sufficient for major emitters to simply set goals, it is now time to improve transparency, cut the timeframes in half and point the finger at those failing to deliver.
It is critical the outcomes from COP26 set the world on an equitable pathway towards effectively tackling the climate crisis. In addressing the myriad challenges instigated by the escalating costs of climate change on environments, economies and livelihoods, we must redouble our efforts to reduce emissions to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of those on the frontlines of climate change.
Climate Researcher & Analyst, Act for Displaced
Sophie is a researcher on the nexus between climate change, human rights and displacement. She holds a Masters in Disaster Management and has worked in research and policy for NGOs, UN Agencies and government in the fields of disaster displacement, climate justice, disaster risk reduction and climate change action