*Each sphere represent 1000 people displaced every year by climate disasters

“On average, 22.7 million people are displaced every year by climate disasters.” -IDMC

Climate Displacement

What is climate displacement?

Simply put, climate displacement is when people are forced to flee the area where they live due to changes in their environment caused by climate change. These environmental changes can be more gradual (such as with a drought where food in an area becomes more and more scarce) or they can be sudden (such as with an extreme weather event like a hurricane). (Source: Platform on Disaster Displacement)

Animation of Colorado Repeated Four Times

In 2019, 24.9 million people experienced climate displacement- that is more than 4x the population of Colorado.

(Source: IDMC)

What parts of the world are affected by climate disasters and displacement?

People in all parts of the world are affected by climate disasters- from families losing their homes to wildfires in California to entire towns being destroyed by cyclones in the Bangladesh. However, South and East Asia are consistently affected the most. As you can see in the graph to the right, China, the Philippines, and India had the highest number of new displacements in 2016. (Source: IDMC)

Who is affected by climate displacement?

Though people all over the world experience climate disasters and displacement, not all populations are equally equipped to handle these extreme events and not all people (even those in the same area) are affected to the same degree. Climate change will affect everyone, but will not affect everyone equally.

People in poorer countries are 5x more likely to be displaced by extreme weather.

(Source: OXFAM)

Climate Change

Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere.” -NASA

The corresponding graph shows global temperatures relative to the average temperatures from 1951-1980.

Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates.” -NASA

Climate change is caused by global warming. Climate data indicates that climate change has resulted in increasing global land and ocean temperatures; rising sea levels; ice loss at Earth’s poles and in mountain glaciers; and increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather (i.e., natural disasters).


“Natural disasters include all types of severe weather, which have the potential to pose a significant threat to human health and safety, property, critical infrastructure, and homeland security.” -Homeland Security

  • A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 35 mph (56 km/h).
  • The deadliest blizzard on record was a storm in Iran in the year 1972. Where 4000 people died.
  • An estimated 55 million people globally are affected by droughts every year
  • 700 million people are at-risk of being displaced as a result of drought by 2030.
  • Earthquakes caused nearly 750,000 deaths globally from 1998-2017.
  • The largest recorded earthquake in the world was a magnitude 9.5 (Mw) in Chile on May 22, 1960.
  • The 10 years with the largest acreage burned, nine have occurred since 2000.
  • Of the total area burned each year from 1984 to 2014, the proportion of burned land suffering severe damage has ranged from 5 to 21 percent
  • Floods are the most frequent type of natural disaster and occur when an overflow of water submerges land that is usually dry.
  • Drowning accounts for 75% of deaths in flood disasters.
  • Kenya is the top place in the world where Hail Occurs.
  • Kenya's localized hail storms damage tea crops, and in many cases, are one of the largest single natural variables affecting tea production.
Tropical Storms
  • Since the year 957, there have been at least 12,791 recorded tropical storms.
  • Tropical cyclones caused more than US$1.2 trillion in damage, unadjusted for inflation, and have killed more than 2.6 million people.
  • Between 1998-2017, landslides affected an estimated 4.8 million people and cause more than 18 000 deaths.
  • Climate change and rising temperatures are expected to trigger more landslides, especially in mountainous areas with snow and ice.
  • From 2010 to 2019 on average 26 people died each year from lightning strikes in the United States.
  • From 2007 to 2011 (latest data available) local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lighting.
  • In 2020 about 76 people perished in tornadoes compared with 42 in 2019.
  • Texas had the most Tornadoes in 2019 with 188.
  • Between 1998-2017, tsunamis caused more than 250 000 deaths globally, including more than 227 000 deaths due to the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
  • Over 700 million people live in low-lying coastal areas and Small Island Developing States.
  • There are about 1500 potentially active volcanoes worldwide.
  • Volcanic activities and wildfires affected 6.2 million people between 1998-2017.


Joe Bridges

Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana USA, 2005

Ryo Kanouya

Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan, 2011

Madina Yacqub

Drought, Somalia, 2019

Future Projections

Where do we go from here?

Climate scientists warn that climate change is projected to get much worse in a short amount of time- increasing displacement in the future. The challenges around displacement are complex and require attention and action across communities. We urge you to continue learning, to support your local communities’ efforts to mitigate climate change, and to consider our global community's increasing vulnerability.

By 2100, 48% of the global population may be exposed to extreme heat (meaning temperatures above 98 degrees) for at least 20 days of every year. That is if we drastically reduce emissions, otherwise that number could reach 74%.

(Source: Platform on Disaster Displacement)