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Competence Centre on Foresight

We foster a strategic, future-oriented and anticipatory culture in the EU policymaking process.

Page | Last updated: 11 Dec 2020

Population displacement

  • Millions of people could be displaced due to extreme weather events, particularly in developing countries with low income.
  • Of the estimated 971 million people -- over 12% of the world population -- living in areas with high or very high exposure to climate hazards, 41% reside in countries with already low levels of peacefulness. Asia-Pacific and South Asia -- the regions with the higher risk to natural hazards and weaker coping capacities -- are home to over 66% of those at high environmental risks.
  • Exposure to six major natural hazards -- earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, tropical cyclone winds, and sea level rise --  doubled over the past 40 years. Currently, some 33% of world population is exposed to earthquakes, around 1 billion people in 155 countries are exposed to floods and 414 million live near one of the 220 most dangerous volcanoes.
  • By 2100, between 25 million and 1 billion people might be displaced in response to extreme weather events, drought, sea level rise, and other climate change impacts.
  • Studies show that temperature deviations from the moderate optimum (~20°C) increase asylum applications nonlinearly-- accelerating with continuous global warming. NASA models estimate that asylum applications in the European Union might increase, on average, by 28% to 188% by 2100 -- meaning 98,000 to 660,000 additional applications per year, depending of the scenarios (RCP 4.5 or RCP 8.5 for the 21 climate models in the NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP)).
  • If current trends continue, by 2100, climate change could lead to a yearly average of 1 million asylum seekers entering the EU. Related Megatrends: MigrationSecurity
  • In 2015 there were 19.2 million new displacements associated with weather, water, climate and geophysical hazards in 113 countries, more than twice as many as for conflict and violence. Of these, weather-related hazards triggered 14.7 million displacements. South and East Asia dominated in terms of the highest absolute figures, but no region of the world was unaffected.
    | Related Megatrends: Migration; Security

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