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Campaigners call for climate refugee protection as migrant deaths reach record high

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As a new study reveals that 22,000 migrants have died trying to reach Europe in the last 14 years, campaigners have warned that climate change may force many more to flee their country.

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New figures from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reveal that 40,000 people have died on all migration routes since 2000, while crossing hazardous routes through deserts and oceans.

A record 4,077 have already died this year alone, most of them while crossing the Mediterranean. The dangers of this route were tragically demonstrated in 2013, when more than 400 migrants died in two separate shipwrecks near the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The report suggests that eight people die each day in the search for a better life, but the IOM fears even this startling figure may be an underestimate, because of a lack of information. 

In the face of what appears to be a growing crisis, the report calls for a crackdown on smugglers and changes to migration laws to better protect these most vulnerable of people.

“Limited opportunities for safe and regular migration drive would-be migrants into the hands of smugglers, feeding an unscrupulous trade that threatens the lives of desperate people,” said IOM director general William Lacy Swing.

“It is time to engage the world to stop this violence against desperate migrants.” 

Experts note that there is a vast range of reasons for migrants to flee their home countries. This year, it is believed the majority of those making the Mediterranean crossing are Syrian, escaping from the civil war.

However, in the wake of the IOM report, campaigners have called for more to be done to investigate the role climate change will play in driving people across borders. 

Many poorer countries are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, as they lack the infrastructure or budgets to protect against them. Many such countries lie in regions of the world particularly exposed to the rising sea levels and weather extremes that rising temperatures are expected to bring.

Recent figures from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center reveal that climate-related events force people from their homes on a scale that far outstrips displacement caused by conflict and persecution.

In February, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, warned that unabated global warming could displace up to 1 billion people by 2050. 

Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation, has argued that while the majority of today’s climate migrants do not leave their own countries, our understanding of these complex processes remains insufficient.

“At the turn of the next century, in a world which is two, three or four degrees warmer and where avenues for safe and regular migration remain closed, how will migration look? Over the coming decades, how many climate refugees might die attempting to reach sanctuary, build a better life for their children or support their families left behind in areas ravaged by climate impacts?” he told Blue & Green Tomorrow.  

Trent notes that, for example, scientists have linked climate change to the extreme drought credited with sparking the Syrian conflict.

Such conditions are a threat elsewhere, and military analysts have previously warned that rising temperatures are likely to exacerbate tensions across the developing world.

As the factors that force people from their homes intensify, Trent, like the IOM, warns that restrictive migration policies are endangering lives.

“What is clear is that we urgently need to improve our understanding of how climate change exacerbates the factors which drive cross-border flows of undocumented migrants and, in particular, start to construct a legal and policy framework which protects the rights of those first-and worst-affected by climate change and ensures that they are able to move safely, positively and with dignity.” 

The EJF is currently leading a campaign lobbying the UN to afford climate refugees special status and aid. Its postcards initiative encourages supporters to take a photo explaining what home means to them. Every image will be sent to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Photo: Noborder Network via Flickr

Further reading:

World Refugee Day: campaign demands help for ‘human face of climate change’

Mass migration and social unrest: why the west should care about climate change

Climate instability ‘will bring more Lampedusas’, UN warns

Lampedusa a ‘graveyard for migrants’ as hundreds die in boat tragedy

Climate change: it’s not just an environmental issue; it’s a human rights issue too

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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