I want to highlight the difficulties with understanding mobility in the context of climate change:
First, how can we responsibly deal with the multi-causal nature of population movements? Can we even talk of “climate change-induced displacement or migration?” We know that decisions to move are rarely mono-causal and that the line between “voluntary” and “forced” is often quite blurry.
Secondly, there is no consensus in our field about the appropriate terms to use about the people we are talking about.
Thirdly, there is the difficulty of how to situate those who move because of the effects of climate change in the broader context of population movements undertaken for other reasons. The fundamental question is: Should people displaced by the effects of climate change receive preferential treatment compared to those displaced by volcanoes or tsunamis, in comparison with those forced to leave their communities because of wars or grinding poverty?
A fourth difficulty in the policy realm is that we really don’t know how many people we are talking about.