Climate migration is about people, not numbers

Durand-Delacre, D.; Bettini, G.; Nash, S.L.; Sterly, H.; Gioli, G.; Hut, E.; Boas, I.J.C.; Farbotko, Carol; Sakdapolrak, Patrick; Bruijn, M. de; Tripathy Furlong, B.; Geest, K. van der; Lietaer, Samuel; Hulme, M.


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 justifysecurity-oriented, anti-migrant agendas. In addition, quantification helps presentmigration as a management problem with decisions based on meeting quantitative targets, instead of prioritising peoples’ needs, rights, and freedoms.