The World Daily
Climate became the leading cause of displacement in 2020



By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | MAY 25th 2021


According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, it’s been found that a record 55 million people had been displaced from their homes by the end of 2020, as a cause of climate and extreme weather disasters.

The number of people displaced by the climate in the year of 2020 had been the highest such recorded amount in at least a decade. It’s also been noted that three times as many people that year had been displaced because of climate, when compared with people who had suffered displacement as a cause of conflict or violence.

The report, by the  Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), stated that a total of 55 million people had been displaced in 2020 within their own countries and that the true number was very likely to be much higher in actuality, as a cause of incomplete data. As such, the current statistics are entirely underestimated.

2020 had also been the warmest year on record, with an added 5 million people displaced that year when compared with 2019.

“Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and violence,” said the climate report. “Disasters and the effects of climate change regularly trigger new and secondary displacement, undermining people’s security and wellbeing.”

The report added that: “The scale of displacement worldwide is increasing, and most of it is happening within countries’ borders.”

It was further added that at least 30 million of 2020 displacements were a cause of floods, wildfires and severe storms. Wildfires were a particularly volatile observation in 2020, with stronger heatwaves and drier conditions making the ideal occasion for fires to get out of control in the US, Brazil, and even in Siberia. 


“It is particularly concerning that these high figures were recorded against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, when movement restrictions obstructed data collection and fewer people sought out emergency shelters for fear of infection,” said the IDMC’s director Alexandra Bilak.

She added: “Today’s displacement crises arise from many interconnected factors, including climate and environmental change, protracted conflicts and political instability. In a world made more fragile by the Covid-19 pandemic, sustained political will and investment in locally owned solutions will be more important than ever.”

Rather than the disasters causing cross-border migrations, it’s instead been found that the majority of these displacements are highly internalised and on a smaller scale – which is part of why they didn’t acquire quite as much coverage. Overall, these localised displacements have costed worldwide economies around $21 billion.

It’s further been investigated and found that at least 20 million of 2020’s internally displaced persons were children under the age of 15, where nearly 2.6 million where over the age of 65. These were primarily and low- and middle-income countries.

“It’s shocking that someone was forced to flee their home inside their own country every single second last year. We are failing to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from conflict and disasters,” said Jan Egeland, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s secretary general.


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021