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Why we need to talk about climate migrants

Why we need to talk about climate migrants

To say that we are at a critical phase in international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit warming to under 2°C, as mandated by the Paris Agreement, is a major understatement given the increased engagements, aggressive targets, renewed commitments and transformative climate policy setting around the globe. The almost palpable optimism is quite welcome —especially if, by the end of the year, the Glasgow conference (COP26) does more than just rehash the pomp and circumstance of past climate summits with little to no progress to show for it

There is a chance COP26 could substantially move the needle, firmly placing the global community on a sustainable and irreversible path to net-zero emissions, hopefully a lot sooner than 2050. After all, the costs of climate change are only escalating, driven up sharply by the impact of COVID-19, which has put pressure on limited resources and diverted the attention of governments. The pandemic has also shrunk the policy and fiscal space, especially for poorer countries, to cope simultaneously with a public health nightmare, enhanced socioeconomic fragility and growing pressure to implement the kinds of climate-driven transformations needed to curb global greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately, time is almost up. Last year, climate scientists reported troubling data, from record CO2 levels to soaring temperatures, shrinking polar ice and melting permafrost, in addition to accelerated deforestation, which has resulted in global forest losses the size of Libya in just three decades. Simply put, we are sliding ever closer to the tipping point, having taken too long to arrive at a moment of truth pertaining to the link between human activities and climate change.

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