Caritas Internationalis launches a report on people displaced by climate change

Press conference launch of 'Displaced by a Changing Climate'. Photo credit: Caritas Internationalis.

Caritas Internationalis has launched a new report, Displaced by a Changing Climate: Caritas Voices Protecting and Supporting People on the Move. The report forms part of the Caritas Global Year of Action on climate change, within the ‘Together We’ campaign which is aimed at promoting integral ecology by simultaneously protecting people and our planet. 

Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that over 20 million people have been internally displaced by weather events, which is over double the average number of people internally displaced due to conflict. Displaced by a Changing Climate explores the experiences of some of the individuals displaced due to climate change and is a result of collaboration between National Caritas Member Organisations from around the world. 

With the Dubai COP28 conference coming up at the end of November, the report aims to show the faces behind the experiences and give a voice to those whose stories are not heard or acknowledged in the international forums where global climate discussions are taking place. 

During a press conference on the report, Alistair Dutton, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, stressed that there is a “moral responsibility” to ensure that unscrupulous hyper-industrial activity carried out by Western companies does not harm people in developing nations. 

 “The reality is now that the climate is becoming so much more erratic, so much more extreme, so much harder, that people can no longer recover. They are being driven from their homes,” he said. “The people who are now facing real and present loss and damage from which they cannot recover have no means to find alternative ways of living.” 

Cécile Stone is the lead author of the report, which contains stories and testimonies of people suffering displacement because of planning, finance, legal and policy gaps. She said there is a dire need for policymakers to face reality and act.  

“There is a void left by governments and, in many places, Caritas tries to fill this void, but its efforts represent a drop in the ocean compared to the magnitude of the issue. People should not be left to shoulder alone the impacts of displacement. They need support,” she said. 

Kirsty Robertson, CEO at Caritas Australia, said of the report, “The displacement of people due to climate change is a growing humanitarian disaster, so it was incumbent on Caritas to bring the voices behind the crisis to the attention of politicians – an effort we hope to further with our presence at COP28. Locally in Australia the impact of climate change is being felt heavily, and even more so by our neighbours in the Pacific who are already being displaced by rising tides and extreme weather events.”