01 December 2015
COST Action exploring links between climate change and migration at COP21
Climate change is the "defining challenge of our age", according to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. It threatens people’s lives and drives them away from their homes in search of a better and safer life elsewhere. An innovative COST Action took up the challenge and decided to tackle the emerging phenomenon of ‘climate migration’. Key findings of a fruitful four-year international collaboration will be presented this week at the 2015 UNFCCC COP21, in Paris.
COST Action IS1101 - Climate Change and Migration: Knowledge, Law and Policy, and Theory recently came to completion after four years of close cooperation among European and international partners from across the social sciences, humanities, legal and policy studies.
The official UNFCCC COP21 side event is a great opportunity for the Action’s members to enhance and improve understanding of one of the most contested consequences of climate change: migration. Representatives from six European universities that have been analysing the climate migration discourse will present their findings, attempting to identify possible areas for future research.
The COST Action’s main message is that "there is no simple link between climate change and migration" . Climate change and migration do not stand in a simple binary cause-effect relation. Political conditions come into play affecting the decision to stay or migrate. Climate change alone is not a simple cause for migration, but affects in particular vulnerable people.
Poverty, for instance, "is a key factor that makes people more vulnerable to climate change impacts in the first place", says Dr Angela Oels, lead organiser of the COST Action side event. She also points out that “what is most problematic about the climate migration discussion is that it starts from the false assumption that dangerous levels of climate change cannot be avoided. I think this is politically a very misleading message. A lot of the projected migration could still be prevented by drastic emission cuts."