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Labor Migration and Climate Change Adaptation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2021

University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Jamie Draper, Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow in Politics, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom,


Social scientific evidence suggests that labor migration can increase resilience to climate change. For that reason, some have recently advocated using labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation. This paper engages with the normative question of whether, and under what conditions, states may permissibly use labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation. I argue that states may use labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation and may even have a duty to do so, subject to two moral constraints. First, states must also provide acceptable alternative options for adaptation so that the vulnerable are not forced to sacrifice their morally important interests in being able to remain where they are. Second, states may not impose restrictive terms on labor migrants to make accepting greater numbers less costly for themselves because doing so unfairly shifts the costs of adaptation onto the most vulnerable.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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