The Geographical Journal

Copenhagen 2009: “All the world’s a stage…” and at stake

By Rosa Mas Giralt

As the Copenhagen climate summit approaches, global audiences await its outcomes. Over two weeks of discussions, delegates from 192 countries will meet to try to establish a new global treaty aiming at cutting the emissions of greenhouse gases to limit the rise of the average temperatures since pre-industrial times to 2°C (3.6F) (Richard Black, BBC News). Ongoing debates seem to suggest that a full treaty will not be possible and that political players will settle for something less ambitious, confirming once more that the unequal geopolitics of climate change jeopardize urgent action.

Whatever the outcome of the Copenhagen summit, the world and its players are already living with the impacts of climate change. Due to the brevity of this post, it is not possible to talk about all the contributions that geography as a discipline is making towards researching and understanding the phenomenon of climate change and its consequences for the stage of humankind. However, in a recent article for The Geographical Journal, Justin T. Locke (2009) contributes to deepening our understanding of the secondary impacts of climate change by exploring its effects on human migration. His research in the Republic of Kiribati and Tuvalu, in the Pacific region, establishes that the “rise in global mean sea levels in the near future will gradually lead to increased out-migration as a method of survival from low-lying countries in the Pacific region” (Locke, 2009:179). New economic and environmental factors will demand that we rethink migration as a possible way of adapting to climate change and broaden the grounds on which refuge is offered to include people who will have to flee from environmental catastrophes. Definitively, we are all players as the stage changes around us.

Visit the BBC News website, special report about Copenhagen 2009

Read Justin T. Locke (2009) ” Climate change-induced migration in the Pacific Region: sudden crisis and long-term developments”. The Geographical Journal. 175(3): 171-180.

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