Workshop: "The contested narratives of climate migration"
September 2nd 2021
Klimacamp Leipziger Land
This year the educational program at the Climate Camp Leipzig focused on issues of mobility justice. With part of the MigSoKo research team we contributed a workshop to reflect on common climate migration narratives used in public discourses against the backdrop of scientific findings.
In a short input we talked about the state of research on the linkages between environmental change and patterns of human mobility. Some concrete examples from our own field work were used to illustrate scientific key findings. In the second and interactive part of the workshop, we analyzed reports and newspaper article to critically discuss the language, narratives, and imaginaries that exist to talk about people on the move.
The public debate on the climate crisis is increasingly linked to the phenomenon of human mobility. When we read the newspaper, we learn about “millions of refugees” supposedly fleeing from the Global South to the Global North because of adverse effects of the climate crisis. This idea builds on the assumption that as soon as climate stressors pass a certain threshold they become direct drivers for out-migration. Most of the empirical research in the field cannot support such a climate migration storyline. Quite the opposite, many researchers agree that there is no linear or monocausal linkage between climate change and human mobilities. Mobility patterns can only be understood by looking at socio-political contexts and structural inequalities. The apocalyptic character of the dominant public narratives on “climate refugees” is problematic as it often depicts people on the move as “helpless victims” or “security threats”.