Laws need to adapt as more climate migrants seek shelter across national borders

Climate change Turn people’s lives upside down However, when droughts, floods and rising sea levels force people to leave their country, people often find that their borders are closed and there is little assistance.

Part of the problem is today’s laws, regulations and international agreements on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Offers very little, if any, with special protection For those who have been forced to leave due to climatic conditions.

Domestic law focuses primarily on violence and conflict as the driving force for displacement, with little consideration of environmental stress. In fact, there are currently no environmental standards for immigration in any country’s immigration system.International agreements such as Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration And that Global Compact for Refugees It mentions the effects of natural disasters and environmental degradation, but is not legally binding.

Biden administration inaugurated Find ways to identify and help people People who have lost their place of residence due to climate change. However, migration due to climate change is complex.

Environmental stress factors associated with climate change are often just one of the factors that migrate people. For example, many immigrants from Guatemala trying to enter the United States Severe drought Or storm, But many Afraid of crime and violence If they move to their home city to find a job. Others are looking for opportunities that they and their children do not have.

So Migration expert And climate Danger, We have been studying how climate change drives out people in our country and often crosses national borders. Here are some of the key challenges facing the Biden administration and why we can’t wait for this effort:

How many climate immigrants are there?

No one knows exactly how many climate migrants exist today and how many will become climate migrants in the future, but current estimates are high.

Over the next few years, the rapid pace of climate change combined with a world population of nearly 8 billion can create unprecedented stress around the world.Recent studies show that the dry season and drought are already Related to increased migration..

In the midst of such stress The need to escape dangers and threats is replacing the desire for opportunities As a major driving force for international migration.

In 2016, the drought forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate in Ethiopia. The majority stayed within the border. UNICEF Ethiopia / 2016 / Tess Phi, CC BY-NC-ND

Disaster that occurred Over 23 million people annually According to the World Meteorological Organization’s World Climate Report, most of them move within their own country to migrate in the last decade.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change This is expected to increase further as global warming intensifies.World Bank predicts climate change will drive 143 million people In Latin America, Africa and South Asia, you must leave your home by 2050. Little contribution to global warming..

The legal definition of “refugee” is narrow

Until recently, scholars have identified war and conflict as the main causes of evacuation.

Since the 1980s Some scholars have begun to use the term “environmental refugee”.For those who have been forced to leave their homes due to disruptions associated with human or naturally occurring environmental events such as desertification, deforestation, land degradation, and sea level rise.

However International definition of refugees Climate change is not included.

United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention It establishes the obligations and responsibilities that member states must bear on refugees. Refugees are defined as those who are forced to flee their homeland because of their race, religion, nationality, affiliation with a particular social group, or fear of persecution based on political opinion.

In contrast, international law does not clearly define immigrants or climatic immigrants. Therefore, all immigrants are subject to immigration law in their destination country. Climate change migrants often have nowhere to go because these immigration laws also lack environmental standards for accepting migrants.

Changes in views on climate change

Climate migrants are not legally considered refugees, but many are very vulnerable.

Resource-deficient climate migrants are likely to be poorer than most other international migrants. This can put them at a disadvantage as more national policies scrutinize the economic outlook for migrants before allowing them to enter the country.

However, climate change migrants do not fit perfectly into the categories of those who migrate voluntarily and those who have been displaced by factors beyond their control.

Consider the case of Ioane Teitiota, A man from Kiribati, an island country. Seeking refugee status In New Zealand in 2013. Eventually deported Because his life was not in imminent danger in his hometown. However, Kiribati is not yet submerged, but is under stress due to further lack of habitable land. Water supply is polluted In salt water.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights dismissed Teichiota’s complaint in 2020, Warned that the government could violate Percentage of UN agreements when sending people back to situations where climate change has created life-threatening risks.

Rethink the role of disasters

Climate change and other environmental stresses are increasingly driving evacuation, but the methods fit well with the bright dichotomy that laws and policies use to distinguish refugees from others on the move. No.

We have countries around the world rethinking the role of disasters and climate change in migration, recognizing the rights of displaced people by environmental causes, and becoming obsolete from what is known today about climate change and climate change. I believe it’s time to reform international and domestic laws and policies. Countries may be reluctant to offer what looks like new portals for immigrants, but while their numbers are increasing, there is evidence that countries need to be prepared.


This article is reprinted from the following conversation Under a Creative Commons license.Read Original work.. Laws need to adapt as more climate migrants seek shelter across national borders

Back to top button