EU Funded Study Links Climate Change with Migration to Europe

Climate Change, European Politics, Immigration, Rundown

It is being claimed there is a link between global warning and migration. A new study which plotted temperature rises versus the number of asylum applications in Europe is predicting that massive migration will take place as temperatures in the southern hemisphere continue to rise.

The results of the study were published in the December 22 issue of the online journal Science. It was largely funded by the European Union’s Joint Research Centre with contributions from the U.S. Department of Energy. The research was led by Wolfram Schlenker, professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York.

The study attempted to establish a correlation between asylum applications in the EU during the period of 2000 to 2014 and rising temperatures then adjusted the data to consider factors such as conflict and political turmoil. Applications in the EU averaged 350,000 per year from 2000 to 2014.

The researchers found out that the number of asylum applications increased significantly in countries where temperatures rose above 20C which is ideal for growing crops. These countries included Iraq and Pakistan which are traditionally agricultural regions.

Conversely, the number of asylum applications were much lower in colder countries, or those that averaged 20C or slightly cooler.

The researchers warn that temperatures will likely rise by 2.6C to 4.8C and would result in an estimated 660,000 new migrants coming to Europe every year by 2100.

The group’s position is that unless more aggressive measures are taken to lower greenhouse gas emissions, migration to Europe will continue to rise exponentially every year.

Bob Ward who is the Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science believes governments should consider the findings of the study when making policies:

“This study shows how Europe will be impacted by one of the most serious impacts of climate change. Hundreds of millions; perhaps billions of people will be exposed to coastal sea level rise and shifts in extreme weather that will cause mass migrations away from the most vulnerable locations.

“We know from human history that such migrations lead to conflict and war with devastating consequences. The huge potential costs of migration-related conflict are usually omitted from economic models of climate change impacts in the future.”

Migration to Europe has steadily risen during the last decade. Factors that have influenced migration include the war in Syria, on-going conflicts in north Africa and the Middle East plus a growing population in these countries that have very few economic prospects for stable livelihood.

A study published in 2015 theorized that the civil war in Syria was believed to have been initiated by drought which the region experienced from 2006 to 2010.

Immigration is a hot political issue in Europe. Political analysts believe the results of the United Kingdom’s referendum on its EU membership and the recent elections in Germany and Austria were highly influenced by the candidates’ position on immigration.

Schlenker believes that worsening climate conditions would further exacerbate political tensions in Europe due to its effect on migration movements:

“Europe is already conflicted about how many refugees to admit. Though poorer countries in hotter regions are most vulnerable to climate change, our findings highlight the extent to which countries are interlinked.”