Climate change could reduce international mobility for low-income populations in Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and the former Soviet Union by up to 10% by 2100. According to a modeling study published in Nature Climate Change, this could rise to up to 35% under more pessimistic scenarios.
Migration is expected to be used more frequently as a climate change adaptation strategy.
However, climate change is likely to lead to resource depletion in some of the poorest regions, trapping people who cannot afford to move. Recent research has used a variety of models to examine the effects of future climate change on migration, but the limitations of international mobility for populations with limited resources remain unknown.
Hélène Benveniste and colleagues developed a model of international migration and remittances (including income distributions) and embedded it within an integrated assessment model (a global climate-economy model) to quantify the effect of climate change resource-constrained immobility. They then ran projection exercises based on five different scenarios of future development and climate change over the next century to illustrate a variety of potential migration drivers. They then considered the effects of climate change on resource scarcity and subsequent immobility.
Climate change, according to the authors, reduces the international mobility of the poorest populations in at least a few world regions. In a scenario in which emissions peak by 2040 and economic trends remain stable, international mobility for the poorest individuals may be reduced by more than 10%. This implies that resource-constrained immobility will most likely play a significant role in the climate-migration nexus.
According to the authors, these findings confirm the potentially devastating effects of climate change on the poorest populations, as well as the limitations of migration as an adaptation tool.