While no country is exempted, poor countries are overwhelmingly those most at risk.
Climate-fuelled disasters forced an estimated 20 million people per year -one person every two seconds- to leave their homes and communities, being thus the first cause of internal displacement over the last 10 years, a study conducted by the organization Oxfam, released earlier this month, revealed.
“Today, you are seven times more likely to be internally displaced by cyclones, floods, and wildfires than by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and three times more likely than by conflict,” according to the research.
The study titled 'Forced from Home: Climate-fueled Displacement' shows that climate-related disasters rose from around 200 per year in 2008 to over 1,500, a decade later.
While no country is exempted, poor countries are overwhelmingly those most at risk. The researchers demonstrated that small island and developing states such as Cuba and Tuvalu make up seven of the 10 countries that face the highest risk of internal displacement as a direct result of extreme weather events.
These communities are 150 times more likely to be displaced by extreme weather disasters than communities in Europe for instance.
“Whether you’re living in the United States or in Spain, you’ll be experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis [...] but the majority of people that are being impacted are living in poor countries,” Oxfam International’s Climate Policy Lead Nafkote Dabi told The Real News.
“Our study shows you’re four times more likely to be displaced by climate-related disasters if you live in poor countries compared to if you’re in the U.S.,” she added.
The leaders of 5 big emitters saving themselves from rising seas while poorer nations sink below the waves of the #ClimateEmergency— Chema Vera (@Chema_Vera) December 10, 2019
We need urgent action to cut emissions and support communities that have lost their homes and lands. @Oxfam for Climate Justice in the #COP25 pic.twitter.com/wdn5woJyXs
On the other hand, countries from Somalia to Guatemala are seeing massive displacement caused by both the climate crisis and conflict.
While it is not easy to establish a clear correlation between climate-related disasters and conflicts, “in some areas of the world, where there’s lack of access to resources because resources are dwindling like due to droughts, your access to food is decreasing, or access to water, that creates conflict,” Dabi said.
Oxfam published the study ahead of the COP25 United Nations climate summit, which is currently taking place in Madrid, Spain.
“The first responsibility of the international community and especially rich polluting countries is to fight climate change and minimize its impact on people’s lives by taking more ambitious actions to cut pollution and limit global heating to 1.5 C,” the study said, reminding it is "a matter of survival for some of the world’s most vulnerable communities."
Another critical issue faced by many developing countries is the lack of progress on funding from rich countries, to help poor countries and communities recover from loss and damage.
The researchers said in their report that the international community has made little progress towards the provision of new funds.
This lack of progress means poor countries have to provide for the cost of weather disasters from their own budgets, when and these costs have escalated alarmingly in recent decades. The study found that in small island developing states, it reaches 20 percent of national income.