The intensifying climate emergency is displacing millions of people worldwide – and especially in countries disproportionately affected by the impact of global heating.

Ever-more frequent extreme weather events in the global south have already forced millions of people to leave homelands held for generations. Communities in Madagascar and Somalia have been devastated by drought. Hundreds of thousands of people in the Sahel region had to flee their homes in 2020 due to flooding. And low-lying coastal regions are facing inundation as sea levels rise. The UN’s human rights chief says environmental threats now “constitute the single greatest challenge to human rights of our era”. The World Bank now says that climate change could force about 216 million people across six world regions from their homes by 2050.

As the UN Refugee Agency urges the world to recommit to the Refugee Convention on its 70th anniversary, its Special Advisor on Climate Action says climate impacts “are unevenly weighted against the world’s most vulnerable people.” He warns that both rapid-onset climate hazards such as flash floods and slow-onset crises including intensifying heat are now rendering affected lands uninhabitable. Many internally displaced people and refugees affected by climate-driven events have little to no prospect of ever returning home.

In the second of three special shows in partnership with the UN General Assembly we’ll look at how the global climate emergency is forcing people on the move, and what action is needed now to mitigate the impact of climate change on imperiled communities while also adapting to its catastrophic effects.

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