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Expert Opinion

Will we wake up on climate change?

Hitting the snooze button on climate change - yet again

Climate activists, NGOs, UN agencies and world leaders alike are meeting this week in Doha, Qatar for the biggest conference on climate change of the year:  the 18th conference of the parties to the un framework convention on climate change, COP18. 

I count myself as an optimist – but the backdrop for this year’s climate change negotiations is pretty bleak. Within just the last couple of weeks, the latest wake-up call arrived, in the form of the World Bank’sTurn Down the Heat, and the U.S. effectively hit the snooze button, preferring to relocate the negotiations under the Major Economies Forum rather than the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

IDMC is concerned about the human dimension of climate change

And you should be, too. The World Bank report provides the latest—of many—assessments that outline the dire consequences if governments do not reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Amid warnings of extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity and life-threatening sea level rise, the report also states that could lead to “large-scale displacement of populations and have adverse consequences for human security and economic and trade systems.” If anything, this is an understatement: IDMC’s Global Estimates indicate that tens of millions of people are displaced every year by storms, floods and other weather-related hazards which may become more frequent or severe due to climate change.

Governments are concerned about climate change’s impact on displacement, too. Two years ago, at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, they agreed that preparing for “climate change induced displacement” would be essential. However, since then, there has been little progress on this issue and it is in danger of falling off of the agenda here in Doha.

To be continued . . .

One of the things I’ll be doing in Doha this week is speaking with governments to remind them that if they want to do more to prepare for climate-relate displacement, they’ll first need to understand the complexity of this problem, the full scope of which is currently beyond anyone’s grasp. Fortunately, IDMC is working to fill this knowledge and evidence gap, and there are mechanisms within the UNFCCC to leverage this new information. All it takes is for governments to act. . . 

Learn more about disaster displacement.