Climate Migration is About People, not Numbers

David Durand-Delacre, Giovanni Bettini, Sarah Louise Nash, Harald Sterly, Giovanna Gioli, Elodie Hut, Ingrid Boas, Carol Farbotko, Patrick Sakdapolrak, Mirjam de Bruijn, Basundhara Tripathy Furlong, Kees van der Geest, Samuel Lietaer, Mike Hulme

Publications: Contribution to bookChapter


It has become increasingly common to argue that climate change will lead to mass migrations. In this chapter, we examine the large numbers often invoked to underline alarming climate migration narratives. We outline the methodological limitations to their production. We argue for a greater diversity of knowledges about climate migration, rooted in qualitative and mixed methods. We also question the usefulness of numbers to progressive agendas
for climate action. Large numbers are used for rhetorical effect to create fear of climate migration, but this approach backfires when they are used to justify security-oriented, anti-migrant agendas. In addition, quantification helps present migration as a management problem with decisions based on meeting quantitative targets, instead of prioritising peoples’ needs, rights, and freedoms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNegotiating Climate Change in Crisis
EditorsSteffen Böhm, Sian Sullivan
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherOpen Book Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9781800642621
ISBN (Print)9781800642607
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2021

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 504021 Migration research
  • 105205 Climate change
  • 506016 Migration policy

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