Skip to comments.Lawyers Call for Changes in International Law to Help ‘Climate Exiles’ (More muslims in our future?)
Posted on 10/16/2009 4:30:33 AM PDT by IbJensen
(CNSNews.com) International law dealing with refugees should be amended to cover people affected by disasters attributed to climate change, environmental lawyers are arguing.
With the United Nations and others predicting upward of 200 million people being displaced by 2050 as a result of environmental changes, the London-based Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) says they will need help dealing with statelessness and compensation.
International refugee law focuses on those who are persecuted for political, racial or religious reasons, the organizations director, Joy Hyvarinen, said in a statement Thursday. It was not designed for those who are left homeless by environmental pressures.
As advocacy groups focus on people mostly inhabitants of low-lying islands or coastal areas affected by the environment, terms like climate refugees, climate exiles and environmental refugees have become more commonly used in recent years.
Climatic events have long had an impact on vulnerable areas records of summer monsoons displacing millions of people in South Asia go back centuries but as concerns about global warming have grown, activists warn about rising sea levels, drought and other events they attribute to climate change.
A new U.N. report published last month said that during 2008, more than 20 million people, mostly in Asia, were displaced by sudden-onset disasters which it attributed to climate these including meteorological (storms), hydrological (flooding) and climatological (extreme temperature, drought, wildfire) events.
An increase in the number of people temporarily displaced will be an inevitable consequence of more frequent and intense extreme weather events affecting more people globally, it said.
In his Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore argued that sea levels could rise by seven meters (20 feet) in the near future as a result of melting ice, triggering the displacement of millions of people.
The claim was one of nine inaccuracies in the film identified by a British high court judge in 2007. Even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a rise of only 7-24 inches by the end of this century, although a U.S. study published in Science a year ago projected a 2.6-6.5 foot rise by 2100.
FIELD, a group of international lawyers whose work includes helping small island nations threatened by rising sea levels, said that phenomenon and more frequent weather-related disasters would threaten food, and water supplies and cause chaos for millions, especially in coastal regions, large river deltas and low-lying islands.
But there were currently no legal guidelines covering people who cross borders because of displacement resulting from climate change, it said.
The international legal framework needs to be adjusted to help climate exiles and deal with statelessness and compensation, said Hyvarinen.
Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, someone with a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion may be recognized as a refugee.
In a speech delivered at a conference in London in April 2008, the director-general of the International Organization for Migration, Brunson McKinley, voiced concerns about terms like environmental refugee, which he said was a misnomer under international law.
Of course people can be forced from their homes by natural phenomena as well as politico-military events, and of course such people deserve assistance to restart their lives, he said. But to suggest that they need the same protection as refugees or IDPs [internally displaced persons] may not be helpful in the search for workable solutions.
FIELD is an independent subsidiary of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a London-based think tank.
Earlier this year an IIED paper delivered at a conference questioned the assumptions that huge numbers of people would cross borders as a result of climate-induced problems.
The papers author, IIED researcher Cecilia Tacoli, said predictions of 200 million environmental refugees by 2050 had become unquestioned orthodoxy despite the growing consensus on the importance of multiple and overlapping causes in most migration flows, including economic, social and political factors.
It seems unlikely that the alarmist predictions of hundreds of millions of environmental refugees will translate into reality, the paper concluded. Past experiences suggest that short-distance and short-term movements will probably increase, with the very poor and vulnerable in many cases unable to move.
Tacoli also said that because governments and international agencies tend to see migration as a problem to be controlled, they were missing opportunities to develop policies that can increase peoples resilience to climate change.
Ping me if you find one I've missed.
Wow....I wonder who they have in mind to provide the compensation?
Funny how it is none of our business when we seek to encourage these nations to do the things which result in productivity, but it is totally up to us to save them from their own bad philosophy when it turns out as predicted to cause more suffering and more poverty. We are told we have to not only respect their flawed approaches, but to subsidize them and take them in when they fail. Fix your own countries all y’all.
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