Effect of border policy on exposure and vulnerability to climate change

Hélène Benveniste, Michael Oppenheimer, Marc Fleurbaey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Migration may be increasingly used as adaptation strategy to reduce populations’ exposure and vulnerability to climate change impacts. Conversely, either through lack of information about risks at destinations or as outcome of balancing those risks, people might move to locations where they are more exposed to climatic risk than at their origin locations. Climate damages, whose quantification informs understanding of societal exposure and vulnerability, are typically computed by integrated assessment models (IAMs). Yet migration is hardly included in commonly used IAMs. In this paper, we investigate how border policy, a key influence on international migration flows, affects exposure and vulnerability to climate change impacts. To this aim, we include international migration and remittance dynamics explicitly in a widely used IAM employing a gravity model and compare four scenarios of border policy. We then quantify effects of border policy on population distribution, income, exposure, and vulnerability and of CO2 emissions and temperature increase for the period 2015 to 2100 along five scenarios of future development and climate change. We find that most migrants tend to move to areas where they are less exposed and vulnerable than where they came from. Our results confirm that migration and remittances can positively contribute to climate change adaptation. Crucially, our findings imply that restrictive border policy can increase exposure and vulnerability, by trapping people in areas where they are more exposed and vulnerable than where they would otherwise migrate. These results suggest that the consequences of migration policy should play a greater part in deliberations about international climate policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26692-26702
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 27 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Border policy
  • Climate change impacts
  • Integrated assessment models
  • Migration
  • Shared socioeconomic pathways


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