GUARDIAN: “55 days to save the Earth …… because that is when the US withdraws from the Paris climate accord, on 4 November. The president is playing politics with the climate crisis – the most defining issue of our time.”
Climate crisis could displace 1.2bn people by 2050, report warns
Countries unable to withstand ecological threats among world’s least peaceful, analysis finds
More than 1 billion people face being displaced within 30 years as the climate crisis and rapid population growth drive an increase in migration with “huge impacts” for both the developing and developed worlds, according to an analysis.
The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a thinktank that produces annual global terrorism and peace indexes, said 1.2 billion people lived in 31 countries that are not sufficiently resilient to withstand ecological threats.
Nineteen countries facing the highest number of threats, including water and food shortages and greater exposure to natural disasters, are also among the the world’s 40 least peaceful countries, the IEP’s first ecological threat register found.
Many of the countries most at risk from ecological threats, including Nigeria, Angola, Burkina Faso and Uganda, are also predicted to experience significant population increases, the report noted, further driving mass displacements.
“This will have huge social and political impacts, not just in the developing world, but also in the developed, as mass displacement will lead to larger refugee flows to the most developed countries,” Steve Killelea, the institute’s founder, said.
“Ecological threats pose serious challenges to global peace. Over the next 30 years, lack of access to food and water will only increase without urgent global cooperation. In the absence of action, civil unrest, riots and conflict will most likely increase.”
The study uses United Nations and other data to assess 157 countries’ exposure to eight ecological threats, then assesses their capacity to withstand them. It found that 141 countries faced at least one ecological threat by 2050, with sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa the regions facing the largest number.
Some countries, such as India and China, are most threatened by water scarcity, it concluded, while others such as Pakistan, Iran, Kenya, Mozambique and Madagascar face a combination of threats and a growing incapacity to deal with them.
“Lack of resilience will lead to worsening food insecurity and competition over resources, increasing civil unrest and mass displacement,” the report said.
It judged Pakistan to be the country with the largest number of people at risk of mass migration, followed by Ethiopia and Iran, adding that in such countries “even small ecological threats and natural disasters could result in mass population displacement”.
Wealthier, more developed regions in Europe and North America face fewer ecological threats and would be better able to cope with them, but most “will not be immune from wider impacts”. The report said 16 countries, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and Iceland, faced no threat.
The report said that the world had 60% less fresh water available than it did 50 years ago, while demand for food was predicted to rise by 50% by 2050 and natural disasters were only likely to increase in frequency because of the climate crisis, meaning even some stable states would become vulnerable by 2050.
55 days to save the Earth …
… because that is when the US withdraws from the Paris climate accord, on 4 November. Five years ago nearly 200 countries committed to a collective global response to tackle the climate crisis. But when Donald Trump took office he announced that the US would leave the Paris agreement. On the one issue that demands a worldwide response to help safeguard the Earth for future generations, the US has chosen to walk away. The president is playing politics with the climate crisis – the most defining issue of our time.
The stakes could scarcely be higher and with your help we can put this issue at the center of our 2020 election coverage. The election will be a referendum on the future of democracy, racial justice, the supreme court and so much more. But hovering over all of these is whether the US will play its role in helping take collective responsibility for the future of the planet.
The period since the Paris agreement was signed has seen the five hottest years on record. If carbon emissions continue substantial climate change is unavoidable. The most impacted communities will also be the most vulnerable. Instead of helping lead this discussion the White House prefers to roll back environmental protections to placate the fossil fuel industry.
High-quality journalism that is grounded in science will be critical for raising awareness of these dangers and driving change. Because we believe every one of us deserves equal access to fact-based news and analysis, we’ve decided to keep Guardian journalism free for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This is made possible thanks to the support we receive from readers across America in all 50 states. If you can, support the Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.