Graph of the Day: Counting climate refugees

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Report shows 22m people internally displaced in 2013 as a result of extreme weather related disaster, three times as many as those displaced by conflict.

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A report published by the Climate Council this week warned that a global warming-driven sea-level rise of 0.5-2 metres could displace between 1.2 and 2.2 million people from the Caribbean region and the Indian and Pacific Ocean islands, assuming no adaptation occurs. But as the info-graphic below shows, climate related displacement is already happening.

Part of a report published on Wednesday by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) as part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), it shows that 22 million people were internally displaced in 2013 as a result of disaster, three times as many as those internally displaced  by conflict. The report, which has been released ahead of next week’s UN climate summit in New York, also finds that risk of displacement has doubled over the last 40 years.

world map - global estimates 2014 - higher res

“This increasing trend will continue as more and more people live and work in hazard-prone areas. It is expected to be aggravated in the future by the impacts of climate change”, said Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“More people today are exposed and vulnerable. Our report shows that much more can be done to prepare for and prevent displacement caused by disasters”, said Egeland.

According to the report, no region of the world is immune to disasters, but as in previous years the worst affected was Asia, where 19 million people, or 87.1 per cent of the global total, were displaced. Both wealthy and poorer countries are affected, although developing countries bear the brunt, accounting for more than 85 per cent of displacement.

In the Philippines, typhoon Haiyan alone displaced 4.1 million people, a million more than in Africa, the Americas, Europe and Oceania combined.

Viewed relative to population size, seasonal floods also caused significant displacement in sub-Saharan Africa, most notably in Niger, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan – countries with highly vulnerable populations who are also affected by conflict and drought.

“Most disasters are as much man-made as they are natural,” said IDMC’s director, Alfredo Zamudio. “Better urban planning, standards could mitigate much of their impact”.

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