Report finds 20.6 million displaced by extreme weather in 2013
Sep 17, 2014

Report finds 20.6 million displaced by extreme weather in 2013

By EJF Staff

A report published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) today has found that 20.6 million people were displaced by extreme weather events in 2013 – almost three times as many as those newly fleeing conflict.

Floods, typhoons, tropical cyclones and storms affected much of the globe last year, with over 100 countries experiencing extreme weather. While tornados hit the US, floods hit Canada and typhoons hit Japan, the study found that developing countries were most affected by weather-related hazards, and were less able to deal with such disasters. For developing countries, the report suggested they often do not have time to recover from one disaster before another one hits.

While the numbers fluctuate year on year, there has been an increase in weather-related hazards since 1970, with estimates suggesting the risk of displacement is more than triple what it was 50 years ago. Additionally, we should expect this trend to continue, with long-term changes in the global climate being expected to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, contributing to the amount of people who will be displaced.

The report also cites the IPCC, who argue that "the latest scientific evidence shows that anthropogenic climate change has already altered the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events in some regions, and that such extremes have become more unpredictable." With this risk in mind, the IDMC suggests that policymakers should ensure "climate change adaptation plans and measures incorporate the risk and impact of displacement," going on to say that at present they are not taking such displacement into account.

EJF believes environmental security is a human right. With changes in the intensity, frequency and unpredictability of extreme weather events being likely to contribute to increasing the risk of displacement, we must take action now. Our Postcards from the Frontlines campaign, which will reach its climax on September 23rd, the day of the Climate Summit, calls for the UN to introduce a Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights. This dedicated Special Rapporteur could inform the UN of the plight of climate refugees, and, with this, identify measures to address this pressing environmental and human rights crisis.

There's still time to send your free postcard to the UN and call for the recognition and protection of the millions already displaced, and the millions more who will be displaced in the coming years.