The number of climate refugees around the world could exceed one billion by 2100, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Asian Development Bank warn in a report released last week.
“Migration is happening all the time, but with unabated global warming…we’ll have to move over a billion,” said Potsdam’s director of climate science research, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. Singapore-based Eco-Business notes that the Asia Pacific will be the most vulnerable region, with Bangladesh the country most at risk.
With a 6.0°C temperature increase projected for some parts of Asia and the Pacific by 2100, the report foresees “drastic changes in the region’s weather systems, agriculture and fisheries, biodiversity, trade, and urban development,” Eco-Business notes. “The living conditions that result in the tropics would make it almost impossible for people to live outside, prompting migration on a massive scale.”
Summer heat waves that would normally be expected once in 740 years—or even more severe events that would be statistically likely every three million years—“could become commonplace in tropical countries such as those of Southeast Asia by the late 21st century.”
“In South Asia, food shortages induced by climate change could increase the number of malnourished children by seven million by 2050,” said Bambang Susantono, the ADP’s vice-president for knowledge management. The report notes that many of Asia’s poor live in low-lying coastal communities that are most vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges. “Asia is now the economic powerhouse of the world, but the values are being generated using the old conventional model of industrialization,” Schellnhuber said. “If Asia can turn the tide, the region will make a major contribution to the survival of our civilization.”
Susantono said the ADB has promised to double its climate financing to US$6 billion per year through 2020, including $2 billion for climate mitigation and $4 billion for adaptation.