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The Concept of Climate Migration

Advocacy and its Prospects

Benoît Mayer

This timely book offers a unique interdisciplinary inquiry into the prospects of different political narratives on climate migration. It identifies the essential angles on climate migration – the humanitarian narrative, the migration narrative and the climate change narrative – and assesses their prospects. The author contends that although such arguments will influence global governance, they will not necessarily achieve what advocates hope for. He discusses how the weaknesses of the concept of “climate migration” are likely to be utilized in favour of repressive policies against migration or for the defence of industrial nations against perceived threats from the Third World.
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Benoît Mayer


s remain abstract in nature. There is no solution to “climate migration” because “climate migration” is not an issue in and by itself. Beyond, the issues reflected by climate migration lie some of the major shortfalls of today’s global governance. At the end of the day, solutions are all too well-known: there is an urgent need for wealthy states to genuinely help the states unable to protect their populations effectively; for national institutions to focus on the protection of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations, in particular the migrants; for industrial states to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to a reasonable level that does not constitute a dangerous interference with the climate system – and for all states to conceive their interests less narrowly, which should lead many of them to divert part of their military expenditures into long-term international cooperation. Yet, the discussions in the previous chapters have also identified certain concrete measures that would be desirable. Rather than a comprehensive “solution” to the diverse issues in questions, these suggestions only involve a step in the right direction. They do not aim at reinventing the wheel of global governance, but at putting the existing wheels in motion, in a dynamic of incremental reforms.

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