CLOSE
   Thursday, 13 May 2021
Lifestyle

Climate change predicted to drive more migrants to Europe

Sagarica

Italian officers rescue a woman from a crowded wooden boat carrying more than seven hundred migrants, during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya. Scientists say climate change could dramatically increase the number of people seeking asylum in Europe. Researchers examined asylum applications in the European Union from 2000 to 2014 and found the number was influenced by temperature anomalies in migrantsu2019 home countries, on August 29, 2016. Photo: AP
Italian officers rescue a woman from a crowded wooden boat carrying more than seven hundred migrants, during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya. Scientists say climate change could dramatically increase the number of people seeking asylum in Europe. Researchers examined asylum applications in the European Union from 2000 to 2014 and found the number was influenced by temperature anomalies in migrantsu2019 home countries, on August 29, 2016. Photo: AP

Climate change predicted to drive more migrants to Europe

BERLIN: Europe could see a surge in “climate refugees” as global warming increases poverty and hardship elsewhere in the world, scientists said Thursday.

Experts have long warned that rising temperatures and extreme weather could increase the number of people in poor countries seeking refuge in richer, more temperate nations, but the phenomenon has previously only been studied at a small scale.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers examined asylum applications in the EU between 2000 and 2014 from 103 countries around the world. This preceded the spike in migration to Europe from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in 2015 and 2016 that prompted a political backlash against migrants in many European countries.

“We find a statistically significant relationship between fluctuations in asylum applications and weather anomalies,” the US based authors wrote of the 15-year period.

They concluded that the number of applications increased the more a country of origin’s average temperature diverged from 20 C (68 F) — the best temperature for growing crops. Higher temperatures were more likely to increase the numbers than lower temperatures, they found.

“It’s the first study that draws a link between temperature and international migration on a global scale, and finds a link,” said Jacob Schewe, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany who wasn’t involved in the study.

Working from a baseline average of 351,000 applications a year, the study concludes that the number of asylum-seekers to the EU could rise by more than a quarter by 2100 even if global warming slows. However, if emissions of greenhouse gases continue at current rates, asylum request could almost triple to over a million a year by the end of the century.

Although economic hardship isn’t usually seen as grounds for asylum in most European countries, the study found an increase in requests being granted to migrants from countries that had experienced weather shocks.

The authors, Wolfram Schlenker and Anouch Missirian of Columbia University, said their study doesn’t account for other factors — such as the outbreak of conflicts — that may impact asylum applications. They argue climate change should be seen as a “threat multiplier” that can increase other factors which might cause people to abandon their homes, including war, economic stress and famine.

Stay in touch!
  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon

Next Article