TIME TO ACT - How the EU Can Lead on Climate Change and Migration

For free

“Climate change will increase migration flows, in particular from the world’s poorest and most crisis-prone countries”, says Bastian Hermisson, Director of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union. “The time is ripe for the European Union to develop a coherent approach on climate change and migration and to translate research findings into policy practice.”

The report debunks some common myths and provides an understanding of key characteristics of migration in the context of climate change. With a focus on EU policies and legal frameworks in the area of migration and asylum policies, the report presents a series of POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE EU.

“The upcoming Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the newly elected European Parliament and the Commission should advance a new EU migration agenda including a more coherent policy on climate-linked migration”, according to Silvia Brugger, Climate and Energy Programme Director at the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Brussels. “The complex relationship between climate change and migration should not be used as an excuse for not addressing the issue. Research projects have provided a BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF ENVIRONMENT-RELATED MIGRATION AND DISPLACEMENT and of corresponding legal and policy gaps. The EU should focus on what we already understand about the links between climate change and migration as a starting point for a political response.”

By taking into account the phenomenon of climate change and migration, the EU can create a humane and functioning immigration and asylum system that is fit for purpose. The report highlights that by CREATING LEGAL IMMIGRATION CHANNELS, the EU can avoid the distress and deaths of persons en route to Europe. The EU should set up rules of how and when to provide refuge and protection during increasingly severe climate linked disasters.

For inquiries, please contact:

Silvia Brugger, Director Climate and Energy Programme, silvia.brugger@eu.boell.org, Tel.: +32 2 74 341 06
Aldo Caruso, Coordinator Visitor Programme and Communication, aldo.caruso@eu.boell.org, Tel.: +32 2 74 341 14

Product details
Date of Publication
June 2014
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents

Introduction (4)

PART I: Defining the challenge – Myths and facts about climate change and migration (7)
1. The relationship between climate change and migration (8)
1.1 Vulnerability to climate change (8)
1.2 Slow and rapid onset events, forced and voluntary migration (8)
1.3 T he significance of climate change and migration for Europe (9)

2. How the interplay between other factors and climate change shapes patterns of movement (10)
2.1 T he Horn of Africa (10)
2.2 T he Sahel (11)
2.3 Pakistan (12)
2.4 T he Arctic (13)
2.5 Bangladesh (13)
2.6 Pacific Island States (14)

3. Some facts about movement with a climate change dimension (15)

4. Framing and communicating climate change and migration (18)
4.1 Problems with terminology (18)
4.2 C limate-linked migration as a new security threat? (20)
4.3 M igration as an adaptive response to climate change (20)
5. Summary of key characteristics of climate-linked migration (22)

Part II: Tackling the challenge – Policy recommendations to the EU (23)
1. Policy responses by the EU so far (24)
1.1 I nitiatives by the European Parliament (24)
1.2 First steps undertaken by the EU High Representative and the European Commission (25)
1.3 Stockholm Programme and Commission Staff Working Document (25)

2. Shortcomings of current policy responses (26)
2.1 Keeping a low profile or taking a leadership role? (26)
2.2 A dopting a comprehensive approach and re-framing the issue of environment-related migration (27)
2.3 A dopting a human rights approach and taking vulnerable groups into account (28)

3. Looking more closely at EU asylum and migration policy (29)
3.1 T he internal dimension: asylum policy (29)
3.2 T he internal dimension: migration as adaptation through EU labour migration policies? (32)
3.3 T he external dimension (34)

Policy recommendations to the European Union (36)

Conclusions (38)