Climate induced migration refers to the relocation of individuals displaced due to long-term degradation and natural disasters, which have escalated in severity because of climate change. These include: rising sea levels, droughts, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, salinization, desertification, and more. According to NPR, since 2008, on average, 24 million individuals have been displaced annually due to such disasters. These individuals are informally referred to, among other titles, as “climate induced migrants,” — they currently lack a formal, legally recognized name. They are also not recognized or protected under international law. Climate induced migration poses an exponentially increasing number of threats to the future of humanity at large.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), defines climate induced migrants as: “persons or groups of persons who, for compelling reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad.”
The migrants themselves can be further categorized into three groups:
1. Environmental emergency migrants
2. Environmental forced migrants
3. Environmental motivated migrants
These three subcategories are self-explanatory; they refer to differences in the situations and conditions which prompted the migration. Emergency migrants are those who have an immediate need for relocation. Perhaps their home was recently destroyed by a hurricane, or the lack of access to fresh water has rendered their community completely uninhabitable. In this case, there is no deliberation; the only option is to relocate as fast as possible. Conversely, forced migrants are those who have been subject to gradual changes within their environment that will, in the near future, necessitate their relocation. Lastly, environmentally motivated migrants are those who have observed the potential negative impacts of staying within their area, and have made the long-term decision to relocate.