Climate change could displace 216 million people by 2050 if issues like rising sea levels, water shortages and decreased crop productivity go unaddressed, a World Bank report titled Groundswell 2.0 warned on Monday.
The report found that climate migration "hotspots" could emerge by 2030 and cause serious strife in some of the world's most poverty-stricken regions.
Sub-Saharan Africa alone could account for 86 million internal migrants. The report forecasts another 49 million to come from East Asia and the Pacific, while 40 million others could migrate within South Asia.
Such dramatic movement would have a major impact on both the places people are leaving and the locations where they are resettling.
For instance, Vietnamese migrants escaping high sea-levels that disrupt rice production and fisheries in the Mekong Delta would likely flee to the central coast. But there, the Red River Delta faces its own climate crises such as severe storms.
However, the report adds that addressing climate change by restoring ecosystems and reducing development gaps could reduce the number of people forced to migrate.
“We have to reduce or cut our greenhouse gases to meet the Paris target, because those climate impacts are going to escalate and increase the scale of climate migration,” the World Bank’s lead environment specialist and Groundswell 2.0 co-author Kanta Kumari Rigaud said, according to Reuters.
Such actions could reduce the number of internal migrants to 44 million people, 80 percent less than the report's status-quo scenario. However, the report does not include the Middle East, small island states, most high-income countries or other areas that could contribute to climate migration.