A newly released World Bank report has predicted climate change could displace 48.4 million in the Pacific and East Asia by 2050.

Water scarcity, decreased agricultural productivity, sea level rise and land loss, extreme weather events and heat stress would be the main drivers forcing people to migrate.

It is the second part of the World Bank’s Groundswell report, first released in 2018, and it estimates that globally 216 million people will be forced to move due to climate change if action is not taken.

Tuvalu, an island nation 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, is deemed fragile in the Groundswell report, as it is already feeling the impacts of climate change. Tomoaki Inaba/Flickr

The report builds upon the previous report by modeling three scenarios — pessimistic, development-inclusive and climate friendly — across six regions: the Pacific and East Asia, South Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Kiribati, The Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu were all classed as “fragile” because of their governments’ predicted inability to address the risks. The combined effects of climate change, isolation, weak infrastructure, minimal economic opportunities and frequent natural hazards made them particularly vulnerable.

Pacific nations and territories are experiencing the realities of climate change already, such as increasing extremes in year-to-year El Niño and La Niña weather patterns, which can lead to droughts and water scarcity.

Climate-driven migration could be reduced by up to 80% if  countries were to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, address gaps in development, restore ecosystems and build on ways to adapt to the realities of a changing climate.  If not, “hotspots” for climate migration would being to appear within the next decade.

In the development inclusive scenario, 125.2 million fewer people could be displaced, 30.3 million fewer in the Pacific and East Asia; in the climate-friendly scenario, 30.9 million fewer people would be displaced in the region.

In August, the United Nations’ climate research group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released a report stating climate change was imminent and inevitable and that many of its effects would be irreversible in our lifetimes. It was “unequivocal” that humans were to blame for “widespread and rapid changes” in the climate, it stated.

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