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Report Forecasts Surge in Numbers of Displaced Due to Climate Change


A new report is warning that climate change, development and conflict could force at least one billion people from their homes by 2050. The report from the London-based Christian Aid charity says poor countries will be the hardest hit. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA from London.

The Christian Aid organization says that while debate in developed countries is often focused on the influx of economic migrants and asylum seekers, internal displacement is a worse, but seldom discussed, problem.

In addition to strife and persecution, the report says many people are being forced to make way for development projects, what the report describes as 'development displacement.'

One example cited by the report is the Karen in Burma. Forced off their lands because of internal strife, their situation has been made worse by government plans to build dams and other large-scale development projects, including palm oil plantations.

The report says of the world's 163 million displaced people, more than 100 million have been displaced by development projects.

Substitution of fossil fuels with co-called bio-fuels to reduce carbon emissions will, the report says, require even more land, displacing more people.

The report describes the potential impact from climate change as an unknown factor, but Christian Aid spokesman Dominic Nutt told VOA there is a consensus that displacement caused by climate change is on the increase and that the worst polluters need to act now.

"What we are interested in is influencing the governments of countries that cause the most pollution, the most emissions and that specifically is Europe, America, increasingly China, and India," said Nutt.

"They are going to hope that this issue goes away, so this is a long term campaign, this report is one staging post in a long-time campaign in which we seek to influence those that cause pollution," he added.

The report urges the governments of rich countries to accept their responsibility for displacement from climate change, and other factors, and help developing counties pay the costs. It suggests a $100 billion annual fund to help those affected adapt to changing weather patterns.

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