Report addressing climate induced massive migration before it happens

Posted on July, 03 2024

Greek civil society initiative for the protection of climate refugees

The Greek Council for Refugees and WWF Greece published the report “Climate Refugees: Addressing climate-induced massive migration before it happens”. In this report, the two Greek organisations hope to encourage a dialogue which will provide civil society with a shared understanding of the challenges and the need for a robust human rights-based system of protection for climate refugees.

As global overheating will most probably exceed the climate ‘defense line’ of 1.5oC within 2024, thus significantly increasing the risk of more frequent extreme weather events, the impacts on human communities are reasonably expected to skyrocket. The broader Eastern Mediterranean region is already suffering from relentlessly brutal climate disasters, while it is geographically placed as the gateway of migration to Europe of persons originating from the continents of Africa and Asia. In the midst of this harsh reality, all countries need to proactively set in place proper mechanisms that will ensure the safe and orderly movement of climate refugees. Offering protection to the invisible victims, i.e. the persons displaced from their homelands due to disastrous weather extremes and slow onset climate events, is a fundamental first step towards building a protection and assistance system, so as to proactively address the prospect of climate-induced massive migration before it happens.

To date, a significant part of the public discourse on the impact of climate change on human displacement focuses on projections and estimations of the size of cross-border migration. This report argues that the discourse needs to be about human rights and how to defend them, in view of an unfolding climate crisis which beyond the 2oC threshold will most likely drag humanity into a state of a long emergency, beyond adaptation capacity. Since the narrative is about the rights of persons in distress, it is important that the debate about climate migration is not used for purposes other than the protection per se of each displaced person. Climate change being in its very essence a human rights crisis, it is important that all mitigation and adaptation policies and strategies be founded on a solid human rights basis.

Aspiring to open an informed civil society dialogue on climate migration, GCR and WWF Greece argue that it is essential for Europe to address the issue in a coherent manner and to allow its climate policies and human rights acquis to mature, by addressing the deficit in legal protection for persons displaced due to climate change and championing the development of an international protection framework.

In this report, the two Greek organisations propose a definition of the term ‘climate refugee’ and a package of proposed legislative initiatives granting temporary protection for climate refugees and the right to apply for asylum. The proposed framework will hopefully serve as the basis for a structured and coherent dialogue between civil society organisations from all countries in Europe.

In 2019, WWF and Prado Museum joined forces using art to underline the humanitarian emergency, which will is expected to happen in a world that does not stop climate change at 1.5oC.
© Museo del Prado-WWF España