Climate Migration Is about People, Not Numbers

H. Sterly, P. Sakdapolrak et al.

In: Böhm S. and Sullivan S. (eds.) (2021): Negotiation Climate Change in Crisis, pp. 63-81


It has become increasingly common to argue that climate changewill lead to mass migrations. In this chapter, we examine the largenumbers often invoked to underline alarming climate migrationnarratives. We outline the methodological limitations to theirproduction. We argue for a greater diversity of knowledges aboutclimate migration, rooted in qualitative and mixed methods. Wealso question the usefulness of numbers to progressive agendasfor climate action. Large numbers are used for rhetorical effect tocreate fear of climate migration, but this approach backfires whenthey are used to justify security-oriented, anti-migrant agendas. Inaddition, quantification helps present migration as a managementproblem with decisions based on meeting quantitative targets,instead of prioritising peoples' needs, rights, and freedoms.