Environmental Refugee Crisis

Climate change could leave billions homeless between now and 2050.

Christian Aid

There are already an estimated 25 million environmental refugees

A billion people - one in seven people on Earth today - could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years - from droughts, food and water shortages, from flooding and storm surges and from sea-level rise.

The increase in sea levels, storms and flooding will cause human migration, which in turn affects the basic inland infrastructure. Small island nations, developing countries and countries with densely populated and unprotected coastlines will be most vulnerable to such impacts

"Already, there are an estimated 25 million environmental refugees - more than half the number of political refugees. Experts such as the ecologist Norman Myers suggest this figure could soar to 200 million in less than 50 years. Unseen and uncounted, millions are already on the move in search of greater water security. In some countries, the exodus began years ago."



the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, said that by 2080, 1.1-3.2 billion people would be experiencing water scarcity, 200-600 million hunger and 2-7 million a year coastal flooding.


The devastating impact

* Poor crop yields are forcing more and more Mexicans to risk death by illegally fleeing to the US.

* One in five Brazilians born in the arid north-east of the country are moving to avoid drought.

* The spread of the Gobi desert, at a rate of 4,000 square miles a year, is forcing the populations of three provinces in China to abandon their homes.

* In Nigeria, 1,350 sq miles of land is turning to desert each year. Farmers and herdsmen are being forced to move to the cities.

Desertification could create more than 135 million refugees, as droughts become more frequent and climate change makes water increasingly scarce in dryland regions, warn UN experts.

Drylands are home to one third of the world's population, but they contain only eight per cent of global freshwater resources.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that by 2080 up to 3.2 billion people - one third of the planet's population - will be short of water, up to 600 million will be short of food and up to 7 million will face coastal flooding.