Climate Migration

Sea level rise is going to displace over 13 million people in the U.S. alone.

Our Take

The images we often associate with climate change include endangered species or extreme weather. But what about the hundreds of millions of people being displaced from their homes if we don’t swiftly address climate change effects globally?

Educate Yourself

Quick Facts


143 million potential climate migrants from Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia by 2050. They’ll be pushed out by droughts, failing crops, rising sea levels, and storm surges.[5]


13 million coastal residents in the U.S. to be displaced by the end of this century, as predicted by climate experts[6]


The world’s richest 10% make 52% of the world’s income and are responsible for 50% of emissions. The poorest 50% get only 8% and are responsible for 10% of emissions.[7]

What is happening?

Take a moment and imagine you and your family being forced to move away from your home and community because of extreme droughts, failing crops, rising sea levels or storm surges. That’s a reality that hundreds of millions of people face in the coming decades due to the effects of climate change.

It’s also a reality that some are facing it not in the future, but right here and right now. In South Carolina, four hurricanes and one major flood have forced people out of their communities making those towns look like ghost towns. In Louisiana, the Isle de Jean Charles, a small island 80 miles southwest of New Orleans, has shrunk by 98 percent since 1955 and forced many of its residents to relocate. The homes in jeopardy belong all too frequently to rural, low-income families of color.

What are the effects?

With climate migration as with other climate equity-related issues, we see that those least responsible for climate change continue to suffer its gravest consequences. Wealthy nations have benefited significantly from the industries that emit the most greenhouse pollutants, as well as support a lifestyle heavy in greenhouse gas emissions. This is a huge reason why low-lying nations, such as the island nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, are now at risk.[1] Climate refugees “often come from countries with low carbon dioxide emissions and few resources to respond to climate change.”[2]

Large-scale human migration, particularly in developing country regions such as Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, are at extreme climate migration risk due to resource scarcity, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and other factors. While there’s been much more global focus on climate change related environmental issues, there remains a serious lack of conversations and planning on how to protect potential refugees impacted by Climate Change.[3]

On a global and local scale, we need to: [1] recognize climate change refugees as an independent group of displaced individuals; (2) establish an effective, long-term migration plan for disappearing nations and communities; and then [3] redirect funds towards resettlement. [4]

By acting now to slow down or stop the impacts of climate change, we do our part to help curb climate migration.

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Advocating Begins With Learning

Get to know the people and places on the edge of climate migration via Esri’s story map visualization tool, “Climate Migrants”.

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My Family

Acknowledgement & Empathy

Have the conversation: “How would our family feel if we were displaced from our home due to the effects of climate change?”

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My Community

Is Your Town Ready?

Coastal populations are on the front lines of climate change. Here are the questions your community should be asking itself (plus the answers!).

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How You Can Help

The first step of advocating is learning everything you can about an issue. Get to know the people and places on the edge of climate migration via Esri’s story map visualization tool, “Climate Migrants”.

Climate change is already displacing thousands of people.

How Your Family Can Help

By putting your own family in the shoes of climate migrants, you can start the conversation of acknowledgement and empathy which can lead into community action.

How Your Community Can Help

Coastal populations are on the front lines of climate change and 13 million Americans could be displaced by sea-level rise and natural disasters by 2100(8). About half will be Floridians (and a quarter Miamians). Louisiana, California, and the Carolinas will also be hard hit. But those facing floods, fires, and drought in the country’s interior might also need to abandon their homes. Abroad, the World Bank has estimated that 143 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia could be forced from their own countries by 2050. Surely a significant number will set out for the United States (9).

Why Towns Should Prepare For The Climate Displaces

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Are you or your organization doing something to slow the rise of this cause that TCI should know about or feature? Let us know!

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