The possible impacts of high levels of climate change in 2060 and implications for migration

Type

Report

Author

New, M.
Anderson, K.
Fung, F.
Thornton, P.

Title

The possible impacts of high levels of climate change in 2060 and implications for migration

Year

2011

Publisher

Government Office for Science

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the potential impacts of high levels of climate change by 2060 on three key environmental push factors that, if sufficiently strong, could trigger or contribute to migration. The study looks specifically at the 2060 time horizon, as requested for the Foresight Migration and Global Environmental Change Project. Additionally, this horizon is particularly pertinent, as it is a time at which many population growth scenarios suggest global population will peak, producing a particularly sensitive climate–environment–population nexus. The paper focuses on ‘high-end’ climate change, enabling the exploration of a worst-case scenario that would result in the absence of meaningful efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2060. The paper begins with an assessment of the potential for continued high greenhouse gas emissions through to the middle of the century, and the range of global and regional climate changes that would be associated with a specific high-end emissions scenario, namely the IPCC Representative Concentration Profile 8.5 (RCP 8.5). The paper then presents an assessment of the geographical impacts of climate change for three key environmental push factors that could affect migration: water resources, agriculture and food security, and sea-level rise (SLR). In each case general issues and vulnerabilities are discussed, along with identification of key regions with high vulnerability. This is followed by a quantitative analysis, on a country-by-country basis, of the nations most at risk from joint impacts of climate change on water, agriculture and SLR. Next, the potential for environmental tipping points to induce rapid changes in environmental ‘triggers’ by 2060 is assessed. Finally, results are synthesised to provide an overall picture of the potential scale of climate-driven stresses on migration by analysing the number of people at risk by 2060 in the three sectors – water, food, SLR – under a mid-range (SRES A1B) population scenario.

Citation

New, M., Anderson, K., Fung, F., & Thornton, P. (2011). The possible impacts of high levels of climate change in 2060 and implications for migration. London : Government Office for Science.

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