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Imaginary Numbers of Climate Change Migrants?

Kelman, I; (2019) Imaginary Numbers of Climate Change Migrants? Social Sciences , 8 (5) , Article 131. 10.3390/socsci8050131. Green open access

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Abstract

Within the extensive scientific and policy discussions about climate change migrants, detailed analyses continue to highlight the lack of evidence thus far for climate change directly causing migration. To understand better how climate change might or might not lead to migration, this paper explores possibilities for developing a robust, repeatable, and verifiable method to count or calculate the number of people migrating or not migrating due to climate change. The discussion starts by examining definitions of “climate change” and “migration”, then looking at how to determine numbers of climate change migrants based on those definitions. These points lead to descriptions of the subjectivity and arbitrariness of the decisions needed for counting or calculating climate change migrants and non-migrants. While the scientific study of working out numbers of climate change migrants and non-migrants is challenging and interesting, especially due to its complexity, changing baselines alongside legitimate concerns about necessary assumptions lead to questions regarding the usefulness of the calculations for policy and action. Ultimately, labelling, counting, and calculating climate change migrants and non-migrants depend on political choices, so any numbers reached might not be scientifically robust. Improved understanding of people’s motivations for migrating and not migrating under different circumstances, including under climate change and perceptions thereof, would be preferable to a starting point assuming that climate change inevitably causes migration.

Type: Article
Title: Imaginary Numbers of Climate Change Migrants?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/socsci8050131
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8050131
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Climate change; climigration; environmental change; migration; mobility; refugees
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10073271
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