Extreme weather forces millions from their homes every year, report reveals

Posted 6 November 2017

Extreme weather
Millions of people are forced from their homes as a direct result of extreme weather events, with displaced populations reaching an average of 21.8 million per year between 2008 and 2016, according to the latest report from Oxfam. 

The report, Uprooted by Climate Change, outlines the social impacts of extreme weather-related events. Oxfam Australia Climate Change Policy Advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw said the world’s most vulnerable communities are more likely to be affected by slow-onset issues such as drought and sea-level rise. 

“Climate change is increasing the destructive power of storms and floods. The catastrophic 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and massive flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal are devastating reminders of what’s at stake,” Bradshaw said. 

“At the same time, rising seas, shifting rainfall patterns, more intense droughts and other impacts are eroding people’s land, natural resources and security.”

Bradshaw said Australia is subject to the urgency of the problem, with many communities within Australia and surrounding islands experiencing hardship now

“For many, including Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal communities in Australia’s far north, and the Pacific atoll nations of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, climate change is a fight for survival,” he said. 

“To be forced from one’s home, livelihood and ancestral land epitomises the immense human cost and injustice of climate change. However, much can be done to minimise the risk of displacement and ensure rights, protections and dignity for people who are forced to move.”

Bradshaw said Australia must follow the example of Pacific nations and work to meet its international climate change obligations. 

“Pacific Island communities are leading the world in action on climate change; it’s time for Australia to follow their lead,” Bradshaw said. 

“To meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement, including helping limit warming to 1.5°C, Australia must achieve zero emissions before 2040, say no to new coal mines – including Adani’s proposed Carmichael mega-mine – and increase support for climate change adaptation in developing countries.

“Inaction has gotten us to this point, but it’s not too late yet to do what’s needed to ensure a safe, just and dignified future for all.”
 
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