Climate change refugee: What will happen in the future?

Historically, refugees have been known for fleeing war and political conflicts. Hundreds of thousands of people are relocating every single year in order to protect themselves from some threat that can be found in the country they have been born and raised.

However, we have recently seen a new type of refugee. They are often referred to as “climate change refugees” or “climate refugees”.

Do you know who they are and what the future looks like? Read this article, and I promise that we will give you those answers.

Definition of a climate refugee

A climate refugee is a person who flee a specific geographic area due to worsened living conditions as a direct consequence of climate change. This includes, but is not limited to, factors such as less fresh water and food, increased temperatures and/or melting icecaps.

How many climate refugees exist right now – and how many will there be in the future?

Most scientists agree that we will not be able to see life-threatening consequences of climate change until 2040. For humans, that is. We already see that more and more animals go extinct for every single day that passes by, but there are not many humans that are suffering to such degree – yet. However, we do know that we are seeing an unfortunate development in several areas. This will lead to a global crisis.

Also read: Top 5 environmental issues right now

Calculation: how many climate change refugees will there be in the future?

We made a quick calculation based on projections from different scientists and politicians. This is the result:

Climate change refugee projection

YearNumber of refugees globally
20254 million
203015 million
203540 million
2040100 million
2045150 million
2050250 million

Please note that these are our own calculations and no “end result”. There are no scientists (or webmasters) that are able to predict the future of climate change refugees. The topic is so complicated and affected by so many aspects that it is really hard to give an exact results. However, we have the confidence to say that our projection is currently the most accurate to be found online.

Is this climate change refugee projection supported by other sources?

It is. There have been two other famous projections on this topic in the past.

#1: UN made a forecast that we might see between 25 million and 1 billion environmental migrants by year 2050. I know…that’s quite a broad projection. Source.

#2: IOM (International Organization for Migration) made a similar calculation. They divided their projection into three possible scenarios: the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the good scenario, they “only” expect the total number of refugees to increase with between 5 % and 10 %. The projection they named “the bad” is a bit worse. In this scenario, they believe that between 1 and 4 billion (yep, with a B) people would suffer from water-shortages.

And the ugly one? Are you sure you would like to know?

Let me quote the source directly: “Under this scenario, predictions of 200 million people displaced by climate change might easily be exceeded. Large areas of southern China, South Asia, and the Sahelian region of sub-Saharan Africa could become uninhabitable on a permanent basis. ”


“The current migrant crisis is nothing compared to what we will see in the future”

Italys previous Foreign Minister Franco Frattini is an expert on climate change. During a political meeting in December 2018, he said the following about how he predicts that ice melting close to the North Pole will impact a new, huge refugee stream in Europe:

“More than four million people are living in the Arctic. If the rise in temperature and ice melting continues, they will lose their entire life. It will simply not be possible to live in these areas as a functional human being anymore. They will have to move on. And they are going south. Not because they want do, but because they are forced to. The migration flow we have seen across the Mediterranean becomes NOTHING in comparison to what will come in the future.”

Powerful words.

Let us forget about Italian politicians for a while. What does the science tell us?

It tells us that there is a strong correlation between temperature increase and refugees crossing national borders. Two professors called Missirian and Schlenker executed a statistical analysis to map out any findings about this subject.

This is their conclusion:

“We find that temperatures that deviated from the moderate optimum (~20°C) increased asylum applications in a nonlinear fashion, which implies an accelerated increase under continued future warming. Holding everything else constant, asylum applications by the end of the century are predicted to increase, on average, by 28% (98,000 additional asylum applications per year) “

In other words: not only are we currently seeing that higher temperatures makes more people move from their country. Scientists also expect this to be an increasing problem every year – if the pattern of climate change appears to be the same as it is right now.

If you really want to download or buy the study, you can do that through this link ( .

Are there any documentaries or movies about climate refugees?

Yes. A documentary called “Climate Refugees” was released back in 2010. It pictures the real faces of climate change – and shows great examples of how people have been forced to leave their homes due to extreme weather and increasing sea levels.

This is the trailer:

Why are people so worried about refugees?

It is funny that most people do not care about climate change policies at all. Well – this is of course until they understand that the choices they make in their daily lives (plane instead of train & red meat instead of salad) will have an impact on how many refugees their country will get in the future.

Once the word “climate refugee” was used frequently across many international newspapers, a lot of people got scared. We all know that it has been “the leftists” that have taken the climate change problem seriously. But if you introduce refugees as a consequence of not working towards a better environment, the right-winged politicians might very well be interested in finding a solution to the problem.

All we know right now is that the number of climate refugees will increase. Where they come from and where they are heading is yet to decide.

Relevant questions

Who was the first ever climate change refugee?

Ioane Teitiota. The 37 year old man was the first person ever that seeked asylum in another country due to rising sea levels.

His application was rejected by the New Zealand government, which made him sad and angry. His lawyer told Reuters that “The refugee convention which came into effect at the end of the second world war needs to be changed”. In this video, you can see his lawyer tell exactly why he believes that Mr Teitiota should be allowed to move to New Zealand under the current international refugee law:

EDIT: For some reason, Youtube removed that video. However, this video features the exact same thing. Climate change refugees from Tuavalu are rejected by neighboring countries that do not acknowledge their “refugee status”:

Will there be more people fleeing from extreme weather compared to war?

At some point; yes, it will. However, there is also worth mentioning that climate change will create new and intensify current conflicts in the future. We already see the beginning of this. A great example is the Ganges river. Both Bangladesh and India claim to “own” the river, but it keeps getting more and more polluted – and at some point it might even vanish/dry out.

1 thought on “Climate change refugee: What will happen in the future?”

  1. Avatar

    Climate change refugees

    We have heard a lot about refugees from war-torn countries. But did you know that there are climate refugees in the world right now?

    THEY DO EXIST. And people who do not believe in climate change, should not believe in climate change refugees either?

    It’s all a part of an alt-right conspiracy where they refuse to acknowledge that such refugees exist.

    These are people who are so badly residing that they have to move. The reason they are doing poorly is, for example, climate change and environmental problems. They can’t feed their family because global warming has destroyed their crops.

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