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Climate migration in focus at official COP21 side event

Climate change migration will be the topic at an upcoming COP21 side event in Paris, France
Photo: Tobin Jones (UN)

“For us in the social sciences, it is very important to highlight that there is no simple link between climate change and migration”, says Dr. Angela Oels, a visiting professor at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS). “In fact, multiple factors influence the decision to migrate.”

Angela Oels is the lead organiser of a side event at COP21 that Lund University is hosting in collaboration with the universities of Hamburg and Lancaster. Angela Oels is holder of the 2015 Humboldt Stipend awarded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond).

At this side event, six European universities from the EU COST Action IS1101 “Climate Change and Migration” will present their key findings after four years of collaboration. The main message from the COST Action is that the political conditions are usually much more important for people’s decision to stay or to migrate than natural conditions. “If people in the end really have to migrate depends on the political context and economic structures. Poverty is a key factor that makes people more vulnerable to climate change impacts in the first place”, says Angela Oels.

Angela Oels points out: “What is most problematic about the climate migration discussion is that it starts from the false assumption that dangerous levels of climate change cannot be avoided. I think this is politically a very misleading message. A lot of the projected migration could still be prevented by drastic emission cuts”, says Angela Oels.

Read a longer interview with Angela Oels: “There is no simple link between climate change and migration”

Watch video interview with Angela Oels

About the side event:

At this official UNFCCC side event, a number of panellists will discuss the importance of social science research for understanding climate change-induced migration. Dr. Andrew Baldwin from Durham University introduces the EU Cost Action and looks at how inequality directly affects vulnerability to climate change impacts. The event will also hear Professor Jürgen Scheffran from Hamburg University, who will discuss what we know about the links between climate migration and violent conflicts. The social construction of climate change induced migration will be addressed by Dr. Angela Oels from the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies and Dr. Giovanni Bettini from Lancaster University will criticise the “immobility” of climate politics. Dr. Francois Gemenne will make a case for keeping the contested term “climate refugee”. Dr. Koko Warner from United Nations University will talk about post-2015 policies to manage human mobility and climate change. To conclude, Dr. Andrew Baldwin from Durham University will outline ways forward for future social science research and policy.

Learn more about the panellists and the side event on the Lund University Sustainability Forum web site

Lund University contact information:            

We can set up interviews with visiting professor Angela Oels in Paris. Please contact the following press officers for more information:

Press officer Cecilia Schubert (international): cecilia [dot] schubert [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se (cecilia[dot]schubert[at]kommunikation[dot]lu[dot]se)
Phone: +46 (0)46-2227046; Twitter: @Lunduniversity 

Press officer Anna Kristiansson (Sweden): anna [dot] kristiansson [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se (anna[dot]kristiansson[at]cec[dot]lu[dot]se)

Phone: +46 (0) 703-592609; Twitter: @sustforum_LU

During COP21 Professor Lennart Olsson from LUCSUS will also be available for interviews:

Lennart Olsson, professor and director of LUCSUS, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies

E-mail: lennart [dot] olsson [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se (lennart[dot]olsson[at]lucsus[dot]lu[dot]se)

Phone: +46 (0)46 222 0511; Mobile: +46 (+) 706 46 27 12

Programme for the Official COP21 Side Event: The importance of social science research for understanding climate change-induced migration

Date and time
Tuesday 1 December, 11:30-13:00

The Conference Centre, Paris – Le Bourget Site, Room 8 (open to accredited persons only)

Lead organisers
Dr. Angela Oels, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), and Political Science Department at Lund University (SVET) in collaboration with
Dr. Giovanni Bettini, Lancaster University and Prof. Jürgen Scheffran, University of Hamburg

Read report back from the side event: Discussions at COP21 side event on climate change and migration

Watch video from the side event

Video from the Lund University co-organised COP21 side event