Tag Archives: climate change

Research Round Up: Using mobile data to understand climate-induced migration patterns

Unveiling hidden migration and mobility patterns in climate stressed regions: A longitudinal study of six million anonymous mobile phone users in Bangladesh

Xin Lu, David J. WrathallPål Roe Sundsøy, Md. NadiruzzamanErik WetterAsif IqbalTaimur QureshiAndrew TatemGeoffrey CanrightKenth Engø-MonsenLinus Bengtsson

Current data on climate-induced migration is derived exclusively from household surveys but there exist difficulties in both the actual collection of data, the size and causal mechanisms behind, but also in attributing individual migration events to climate change.

Limitations of household surveys include that analysis requires detailed mobility data over a range of temporal and spatial scales, biased interviews from family households, logistical difficulties of data collection. This results in that not all surveys are performed at the same time, which may bias results, and collection of data from migrating households are often spread across large areas.

To understand the link between climate change, changing living conditions and migration, traditional surveys must be replaced by analysis longitudinal studies over several years to observe changes. One potential data source that can fulfil these requirements is the call detail record (CDR). CDR has been used previously for quantifying the spread of infectious diseases for example and collects data including information on the position of the mobile through calls, texts and data download. The mobile network operators then store the data.

Studies using CDR has been carried out in Bangladesh, highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, and shows that CDR is a very promising data source as a supplement to existing household surveys which allows us to monitor, interpret and respond to climate-induced migration patterns both on local and national scales.

6059184704_eb86b6a296_zImage credit: eGuide Travel (CC BY 2.0) from Flickr.com

Chanelle Andrén is a volunteer at UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition and writes the round up of new research on climate change, migration and displacement. Her background is in International Human Rights Law with specialisation in ‘Just Transitions’.

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Syria, refugees and climate change: resource collection

We have a collection of resources exploring the links between climate change, the conflict in Syria and the refugee situation in Europe. This is a collection of briefings, blog posts, podcasts and videos we have produced over the last 12 months.

report_iconDid climate change lead to the conflict in Syria? We examine new research that claims a powerful link.

podcast_iconVideo: climate change and the Syria crisis. Video presentation exploring the evidence connecting climate and the situation in Syria. Including examination of the media narrative, and possible solutions.

report_iconBriefing Q&A: climate change and the refugee crisis. Short briefing exploring the evidence linking climate change and the conflict in Syria.

report_iconClimate change and terrorism: understanding the political narrative. Blog exploring how commentators have connected climate change with terrorism.

report_iconClimate change and the Calais refugee “crisis”. Is there a climate connection? Analysis of arguments linking climate change with the refugee situation in Calais.

report_iconClimate change and the tragedy in the Mediterranean – are there connections? Blog exploring evidence linking climate change, the situation in Syria and attempts by people to cross the Mediterranean.

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Paris – displacement and migration. What happens next?

(This is our initial reaction. We will be publishing reaction from various experts later this week.)

What does it actually say?

The outcome of the Paris negotiations creates a “task force” whose job will be to “develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change”

What happens next?

More negotiations. Who is on the task force? Who leads it? What can and can’t it do? This will all have to be developed and agreed at future talks.

However, here are a few key points we feel should shape the task force:

  • It should be lead by countries most vulnerable to displacement linked to climate change.
  • Within the leadership of those countries, there should be a strong role for civil society groups who are already working with migrants and displacees.
  • The priorities of people who move (rather than other vested interests) must shape the remit and priorities of the task-force.

Is it everything we could have hoped for?

That depends on what you were hoping for. Two points seem clear:

  • Before Paris there was no agreement at all, let alone anything that mentioned displacement or migration linked to climate change. Now there is an agreement between nearly 200 countries to tackle climate change, and included in that agreement is a commitment to address displacement linked to climate impacts.
  • On the other hand the text of the final deal is not as ambitious as many had hoped. This applies to the text of migration and displacement too. Because of these more ambitious previous drafts, it is also the case that the Paris outcome is not as ambitious as it could have been when it comes to migration or displacement.

Whether you feel optimistic or defeated by this will mainly depend on what you thought might happen.

What don’t we know?

Several previous drafts of the document referred to displacement and migration. Or even to displacement, migration and relocation. It’s not entirely clear why the final draft only talks about displacement and what the implications of this might be. However, it could narrow the remit of the task force to only looking at instances where people are very clearly forced to move by climate-linked disasters. This could exclude work exploring people whose movement appears more like migration, or work looking at migration as a way of adapting to climate impacts. Having said that, the remit of the task force is left open enough that it could also include these issues. We simply don’t know yet.

What does it all mean?

Obviously it doesn’t mean an end to displacement caused by climate impacts. It could mean the start of a process that does any number of things that might help people who move due to climate change. Exactly what those things are is not spelled out in the agreement. No doubt states, international agencies and civil society groups are formulating their ideas of what they want, and how to pursue those through the new task force. The actual shape of this task force and what it does will be thrashed out over the next few years.

Alex Randall is the project manager of the Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author of a number of the Coalition’s reports, as well as numerous blogs and comment pieces.

Image: Adapted from David Stanley (CC BY 2.0) from Flickr.

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Podcast. Expert view: Walter Kälin on climate and migration at the negotiations in Paris

We interviewed climate and migration expert Walter Kälin. The key topic of our conversation was how this issue might (or might not) be addressed at the climate change negotiations.

Music: Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie, Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0)
Image: NASA Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Alex Randall is the project manager of the Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author of a number of the Coalition’s reports, as well as numerous blogs and comment pieces.

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PODCAST: how can we protect people who migrate as a way of adapting to climate change?

One of the most talked about topics in the field of climate and migration is the idea of migration as adaptation. In this podcast we argue that for many people migration may be their most viable way of adapting. However we also argue that this can open up a new set of risks for migrants including exploitation in new work places. If migration is truely to become an empowering way for people to adapt, states must act to protect the welfare of people who move.

This podcast is roughly based on a presentation we made at the recent IOM consultations in Geneva.

Key points made in the podcast:

  • Migration is increasingly becoming a way that some communities adapt to climate change impacts. Regardless of the policy debate, people are already using migration as a coping strategy.
  • We argued that there are several measures that could enable more people to use migration as a way of adapting to a changing climate. Key among these is education in rural areas. This could enable people to leave badly hit agricultural areas and seek work in other locations.
  • We also pointed to several challenges that the idea of migration as adaptation presents. We organised these roughly into issues faced by sending communities and issues faced by migrants.
  • For example when people leave a household, this can move important responsibilities – such as child care – onto other household members. This could result in older members of the household having to care for children. Or children bearing more responsibility for younger children, which could affect their education.
  • We therefore made the case that as migration as adaptation becomes a matter of policy, projects must not ignore the people who are left behind.
  • We further made the case that people who move as an adaptive response to climate change may not face fundamentally different challenges to other kinds of migrants. For example as people move from rural areas to cities, they may face issues such as poor housing, exploitation by employers and poor access to services.
  • Again, we made the case that as migration as adaptation become a matter of policy – rather than an ad-hoc coping strategy – additional efforts must be made to combat the challenges faced by migrants moving into cities.

Image: Rakib Hasan Sumon, Creative Commons – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Railway station in Dhaka, Bangldesh. flic.kr/p/kwVF8e

Alex Randall is the project manager of the Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author of a number of the Coalition’s reports, as well as numerous blogs and comment pieces.

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New book – how organizations deal with climate & migration

We have a chapter in a new book Organizational Perspectives on Environmental Migration. The book is a collection of chapters exploring how organisations have responded to migration and displacement linked to environmental change. Academics and practitioners explore how environmental migration has shaped the work of their organizations and projects. The book is edited by François Gemenne and Kerstin Rosenow-Williams.

Our chapter looks specifically at our campaigning and advocacy work. The chapter looks at how green and climate change campaign groups have engaged with the issues. It make several key points

  • Different parts of the green movement have created very different ‘stories’ about migration linked to climate change. Different groups have constructed different ideas of who and what environmental migrants are.
  • Some see them as a threat and security risk. Others have painted them as desperate people in need of pity and humanitarian assistance. Few have explored the full spectrum of human movement that might be created by climate change, or the wishes and opinions of affected communities.
  • Climate change organizations often highlight climate linked migration as a way of galvanising public support for policies to reduce carbon emissions, however this has generally not be effective.
  • Environmental organizations have sometime allied themselves with unusual groups – such as military think tanks when claiming that migration linked to climate change could be a new driver for armed violence.
  • This has also created a tension between climate and refugee / migrant civil society groups. With the refugee and migrant groups seeing the climate organizations seeing green groups as painting vulnerable people as a threat.

However, we conclude that there is great potential for climate organizations and refugee and migrant NGOs to work together on areas of shared interest. Especially around climate policy and humane immigration and refugee policy. However this must be built up gradually on a shared understanding of the reality of migration linked to climate change, and its complexity.

Alex Randall is the project manager of the Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author of a number of the Coalition’s reports, as well as numerous blogs and comment pieces.


Image: 350 .org / Moth Dust – www.mothdust.net. From Flickr. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Podcast: The Pacific – migrating to adapt to climate change

People in the Pacific are increasingly using migration as a way of protecting their livelihoods in the face of climate change. At the moment many are using temporary migration to help their communities adapt. But what happens when climate change means people have to move permanently? And what can be done to protect the rights of people who move? We interview Sophia Kagan who works with the International Labor Organisation about their work on migration and climate change in the Pacific.


Music: Chris Zabriskie, Creative Commons – bit.ly/1GbjnOG. Image: Luigi Guarino, Creative Commons bit.ly/1Mw92hJ

Alex Randall is the project manager of the Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author of a number of the Coalition’s reports, as well as numerous blogs and comment pieces.

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Not the end for displacement at the Paris climate talks

This week many people have been worried that any discussion of displacement and migration might be gone from the Paris climate change talks.

Over the past few months a draft agreement has been hammered out in a series of smaller meetings. World leaders will then meet in Paris to negotiate on the final version. Of course leaders and their civil servants may radically alter the draft agreement over the two weeks of negotiations. But the draft of the agreement they start with is still vitally important.

There have been several versions of this draft text over the past year. It has changed after each interim meeting as states try to agree reach agreement. But if you look back at any of them you’ll find this paragraph:

Provisions for establishing a climate change displacement coordination facility that:

  • Provides support for emergency relief;
  • Assists in providing organized migration and planned relocation;
  • Undertakes compensation measures.

This paragraph has gone from the latest version of the text. This lead to many fearing that the issue of climate linked displacement was gone from the Paris climate negotiations. Clearly it is not good that this paragraph no longer forms part of the agreement states will begin negotiating in Paris. In fact a huge amount of specific detail has been removed between the current draft and the previous draft. The drafts produced in February and June were over 80 pages long. The current draft is 20 pages. Getting the draft agreement down to roughly this size is a vital part of producing an agreement that stands a chance of success.

However we should not see the paragraph’s removal as a mere formality. The paragraph on displacement was supported by many of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It was supported by many of the poorest countries, who are likely to suffer the consequences unchecked climate change. For many of these countries climate-linked displacement is a very real problem. Wealthier or high emitting countries possibly saw the paragraph as creating a number of obligations. Firstly a financial obligation, to assist during disasters. Secondly, the beginnings of an obligation to allow entry into their countries for people forced to move by climate impacts.

However this is short sighted of states that have pushed for the removal of the displacement paragraph. The paragraph calls for coordination and organisation. The hope of the paragraph was that human movement linked to climate change might happen in an organised way, rather than in a chaotic and disordered way. If we’ve learned anything in Europe over past few months it that when displacement happens, it is far better for governments to be coordinated and organised. Chaos benefits no one.

I asked Koko Warner – who has been deeply involved in the the UN process for many years –  about the missing  paragraph. Her argument is that we should not see this as the end of the line. There are still a number of reasons to be hopeful about the presence of migration and displacement in the Paris talks. Removing specific detail doesn’t necessarily mean that the proposals can’t be reintroduced. It may be that a state will attempt to re-insert the deleted paragraph during the negotiations in Paris. Walter Kalin –  a leading humanitarian and international law expert – shared a similar reflection. A paragraph’s deletion is not the end, if there is broad enough support it can be reintroduced at a later stage.

But we must begin to ask: what happens if the paragraph is not in the agreement?

The absence of this paragraph from the final agreement doesn’t prevent states reaching agreement on the climate linked displacement in the future. The absence of the displacement paragraph means there is more space for states to drag their feet, or object entirely. But this will be the case with many aspects of the agreement. Any global agreement amounting to only a few tens of pages will inevitably create hundreds of areas that require states to meet again and negotiate more detailed plans. In the absence of the displacement paragraph we can hope that the Paris talks lay the groundwork for future coordination between states on displacement linked to climate change – even if the final text itself does not contain the concrete proposals for how this can happen.

The Paris climate talks are not the only show in town when it comes to climate linked displacement and migration. The issue of human movement linked to climate change touches on so many different areas of international cooperation that trying to address the issue in one agreement may not work.

Here are just a few international agreement that have a bearing on migration and displacement linked to climate change:

  • This year states agreed the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Framework outlines how states will cooperate to reduce the impact of disasters. The agreement “contains important language on displacement linked to climate change.
  • The Nansen Initiative is a state led process currently creating a new framework protecting people displaced across borders by disasters, including the impacts of climate change.
  • The vast majority of climate linked displacement will take place within countries. People will not cross international borders. They should be protected by the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. There is work to be done making sure states properly adhere to these principal during episodes of displacement.

These international agreements do not mean we can be complacent about Paris. Rather, they show us that this year’s climate negotiations are not the only chance for creating policies that will protect people at risk of displacement due to the impacts of climate change.

Alex Randall is the project manager of the Climate Change and Migration Coalition. He is author of a number of the Coalition’s reports, as well as numerous blogs and comment pieces.

Image: Sean X Liu (CC BY-SA 2.0) from Flickr.

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Our latest report on Syria and climate change: find out more