Introduction to Climate Migration

Updated: May 28

Photo Credit: Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Who Are Climate Refugees? Climate Refugee Stories

Migration and Climate Change, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Migration, Environment, and Climate Change (MECC) Division, IOM

MECC Info Sheet

Climate-Induced Migration Research Hub, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School

Abrahm Lustgarten, The Great Climate Migration, New York Times Magazine, July 23, 2020.

Al Shaw and Abrahm Lustgarten, New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States, ProPublica, September 15, 2020.

Alex de Sherbinin, Climate Impacts as Drivers of Migration, Migration Policy Institute, October 23, 2020.

Number of Refugees Worldwide Has Doubled in a Decade, UN Report Says, New York Times, June 18, 2020.

Kate Lyons, Climate refugees can’t be returned home, says landmark UN human rights ruling, The Guardian, January 20, 2020.

Migration and Water: A Global Overview, United Nations University Institute for Environment, Water, and Health report, May 11, 2020.

Nidhi Nagabhatia, Water, Climate, Conflict & Migration: Coping with 1 Billion People on the Move by 2050, Inter Press Service, June 8, 2020.

Francisco Bassetti, Environmental Migrants: Up to 1 Billion by 2050, Foresight, May 22, 2019.

FAQ: Climate Change Disaster Displacement, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

United Nations. Climate Change and Disaster Displacement, UNHCR. Accessed November 4, 2019.

Climate Migrants, StoryMaps

Moving Stories, Climate and Migration Coalition

Colette Pinchon Battle, Climate change will displace millions. Here’s how we prepare. TED Talk, December, 2019.

Gina Ferazzi, Mike Ludwig, and Dahr Jamail, From California to El Salvador, Climate-Driven Displacement Is on the Rise, Truthout, October 31, 2019.

McDonnell, Tim. The Refugees The World Barely Pays Attention To. NPR. NPR, June 20, 2018.

Collectif Argos. Climate Refugees. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2010.


Sonia Shah, The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move. New York: Bloomsbury, 2020.

Hein de Hass, Stephen Castles, and Mark J. Miller, The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World, 6th ed. London: Red Globe Press, 2020.

Simon Behrman and Avidan Kent. ‘Climate Refugees’: Beyond the Legal Impasse? London: Routledge, 2018.

New York Times Editorial Staff, Climate Refugees: How Global Climate Change is Displacing Millions, New York Times Educational Publishing, 2018.

Todd Miller, Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security. San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, 2017.

John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins, Rising Tides: Climate Refugees in the Twenty-First Century, Indiana University Press, 2017.

Andrew Baldwin and Giovanni Bettini, eds. Life Adrift: Climate Change, Migration, Critique London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

François Crépeau and Benoît Mayer. Research Handbook on Climate Change, Migration and the Law. Research Handbooks in Climate Law. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017.

Benoît Mayer. The Concept of Climate Migration: Advocacy and Its Prospects. Elgar Studies in Climate Law. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2016.

Robert A. McLeman, Climate and Human Migration: Past Experiences, Future Challenges Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

More Online Resources

The Archive, Earth Refuge

Laura Parker, 143 Million People May Soon Become Climate Migrants, National Geographic, March 19, 2018.

David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth, New York Magazine, July 9, 2017.

Watch the Movement of Every Refugee on Earth Since 2000, Fast Company, May 31, 2017.

Suong Vong, Protecting Climate Refugees is Crucial for the Future, Humanity in Action, May 2017.

Climate Refugee, National Geographic Encyclopedia

Climate change will create world’s biggest refugee crisis, The Guardian, Nov 2, 2017.

Migration Expert Urges Immediate Action as Millions are Already Displaced by Climate Change, Democracy Now! November 16, 2017.

Immigration attorneys warn against using the term ‘climate refugees’, PRI, September 22, 2017.

James Estrin, Photographing Climate Change Refugees, by Drone and on Foot, New York Times, December 28, 2016.

An Interview with author Todd Miller on Climate Change and Migration, No More Deaths, October 11, 2016.

Deirdre Fulton, Climate Change and the Coming ‘Humanitarian Crisis of Epic Proportions, Common Dreams, December 1, 2016.

Carolina Fritz, Climate Change and Migration: Sorting Through Complex Issues Without the Hype, Migration Policy Institute, March 4, 2010.


BASELINE 2020 - A Film by John D. Sutter, BASELINE 2020. Baseline Productions, 2019.

Environmental Migration Portal. A Conversation with Dina Ionesco, Environmental Migration Portal, International Organization of Migration. Accessed November 11, 2019.

Mach, Katharine. Climate Migration, Climate One, June 6, 2018.

New Report Says Climate Change Could Force Millions to Move Within Their Countries. World Bank, Filmed 2018. YouTube video, 04:13. Posted March 19, 2018.

Human Flow, directed by Ai Weiwei, 2017.

Interview with Ai Weiwei about Human Flow, ‘Being a Refugee is a Human Condition

Scholarly Articles

*requires subscription or institutional access

*Robert McLeman, Thresholds in Climate Migration. Population and Environment 39:4 (2018) 319-38.

Rebecca Hingley, ‘Climate Refugees’: An Oceanic Perspective Asia & The Pacific Policy Studies 4:1 (2017) 158-165.

  • Challenges the label of ‘climate refugees’ as disempowering

Giovanni Bettini, Sarah Louise Nash, and Giovanna Gioli, One step forward, two steps back? The fading contours of (in)justice in competing discourses on climate migration The Geographical Journal 183:4 (2017) 348-358.

Chris Methmann and Angela Oels, From ‘fearing’ to ‘empowering’ climate refugees: Governing climate-induced migration in the name of resilience. Security Dialogue 46:1 (2015) 51-68.

*Betsy Hartmann, Rethinking climate refugees and climate conflict: rhetoric, reality and the politics of policy discourse. Journal of International Development 22.2 (2010) 233-246.

*Morrissey, James. Environmental Change and Forced Migration: A State of the Art Review, 2009.

NGO Reports

Rigaud, Kanta Kumari, Alex de Sherbinin, Bryan Jones, Jonas Bergmann, Viviane Clement, Kayky Ober, Jacob Schewe, et al. Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, Open Knowledge Repository. World Bank, Washington, DC, March 19, 2018.

John Podesta, The Climate Crisis, Migration, and Refugees, Brookings Institute, July 25, 2019.

Laczko, Frank, Christine. Aghazarm, United Nations University. Institute for Environment Human Security, and International Organization for Migration. Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence. Geneva: International Organization for Migration, 2009.


Emily Atkin, HEATED

Aedy, Richard, Life Matters, Life Matters, July 27, 2011.

Exploring Climate, Disasters and Migration, UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition, Soundcloud, April 14, 2015.

Climate Change Displacement is Happening Now, International Rescue Committee, Displaced (episode 9), March 19, 2019.

How Global Warming Exacerbates Conflict, International Rescue Committee, Displaced (episode 10), March 26, 2019.

Hsiang, Solomon, and Katharine March. Climate Winners and Losers, Climate One, July 5, 2019.

Ionesco, Dina, and Alex Sutton, Climate Change and Migration: How Are They Linked?, Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society, University of Oxford, December 18, 2014.

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