RSVP: Modeling the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Population Distribution and Migration
March 20, 3-5pm
Satow Room, 5th floor of Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York NY 10027

Presenters: Alex de Sherbinin (CIESIN, The Earth Institute at Columbia University) and Bryan Jones (CUNY Institute for Demographic Research)

When discussing so-called “climate refugees”, the most frequently asked question by decision-makers and the media relates to the numbers of people who are likely to migrate owing to climate change impacts. Back of the envelope estimates of the number of climate migrants within certain time frames have been generated by a variety of advocacy groups, but until recently academics have tended to shy away from the “numbers game”. This is beginning to change. This presentation will review the most widely used modeling strategies, then describe in depth a gravity-based approach to generating future population distributions under climate impacts, together with associated migration levels, for the World Bank report, Groundswell: Preparing the Way for Internal Climate Migration. The model is unique in providing scenario-based maps of in- and out-migration hotspots while generating a range of plausible estimates of numbers of migrants, at scales ranging from sub-national to continental and global. Results for East Africa and Ethiopia are presented.

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