Dubai: The Middle East and South Asia are on the frontline of climate-change catastrophe, according to a report from charity group Christian Aid.
One billion people could be forced from their homes between now and 2050 on account of changing weather patterns, the report predicts. The report, which is based on the latest UN population and climate change figures, says conflict, large-scale development projects and widespread environmental deterioration will combine to make life unsupportable
for hundreds of millions of people, mostly in the Sahara belt, South Asia and the Middle East.
While the report does not make any link between climate change and the threat of terror attacks it is obvious that any upheaval on the scale predicted, displacing one in seven of the planet’s inhabitants, would have serious consequences for global stability.
“While the science of climate change prediction is still weak, in terms of pinpointing exactly where and when, one area where it is strong is in the Middle East,” Andrew Pendleton, senior climate policy advisor to Christian Aid, told Gulf News last night.
“Water scarcity is going to be a major concern. We have already seen issues over water and national boundaries; climate change is going to make this worse.”
With global warming forcing so many people to uproot, a wave of migration will generate new conflicts in areas of the world where resources are most scarce, the report warns.
“Whether it’s a farmer being kicked off his land because of scarce resources or the building of a dam forcing communities to leave, forced migration is now the most urgent threat facing poor people in the developing world.”
The report says “a world of many more Darfurs is the increasingly likely nightmare scenario” and the impact of climate change is the great and frightening unknown.
The charity points out that most of those on the move will have to remain in their own countries as internally displaced people with no rights under international law and no voice – in many cases their lives will be in danger.
Christian Aid is calling for “a stronger, braver response” by the international community if the worst effects of the crisis are to be averted.
“There must be global action to prevent the looming crisis,” Pendleton said.
The report is based on data in the latest
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which said that by 2080, 1.1-3.2 billion people would be experiencing water scarcity, 200-600 million hunger and 2-7 million coastal flooding every year. The Christian Aid report says: “A staggering number of people are being pushed aside to make way for dams, roads and other large-scale development [projects].”
It says this includes 25 million displaced by conflict and human rights abuses, 25 million by natural disasters such as earthquakes, and 105 million by large development projects, with 8.5 million now officially classed as refugees.
An overpowering bleakness
Now: 25 million displaced by conflict and human rights abuses, 25 million by natural disasters, and 105 million by large development projects, with 8.5 million now officially classed as refugees.
By 2050: 250 million permanently displaced by climate change-related phenomena such as drought, floods and hurricanes, and 645 million by dams and other development projects.
State of affairs
“Forced migration is now the most urgent threat facing poor nations,” says John Davison, the report’s lead author. “Climate change is the great, frightening unknown in this equation.
“There are no recent authoritative global figures on the number of people who could be displaced by climate change.
“But the lack of knowledge must not lead to a neglect of what can be done now to prevent displacement and to help people who are affected,” says the report, which says the best way to reduce people’s vulnerability would be to reduce global poverty.