CASE FOR “CLIMATE CHANGE REFUGEE” REJECTED BY NEW ZEALAND APPEALS COURT
The New Zealand Court of Appeal rejected a South Pacific Islander’s request for asylum as a “climate change refugee.” Ioane Teitiota is from Kiribati, a chain of low-lying islands that are seriously threatened by sea-level rise, and had made his appeal on the grounds that he and his family would face serious harm from climate change if forced to return home. While the court agreed that Teitiota’s situation might be better in New Zealand, it also noted that millions of other people in low-lying countries are in a similar position; if they granted Teitiota’s request, millions like him would be entitled to protection under the Refugee Convention. In its written decision, the court stressed that the judgment does not downplay the importance of climate change, but rather shows that “climate change and its effect on countries like Kiribati is not appropriately addressed under the Refugee Convention.” Kiribati is already suffering the effects of climate change; the islands are experiencing floods and storm surges, and the water table is becoming contaminated by salt, making agriculture difficult. For the full story, see http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2014/05/15/stories/1059999592 and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/worlds-first-climate-change-refugee-has-appeal-rejected-as-new-zealand-rules-ioane-teitiota-must-return-to-south-pacific-island-nation-of-kiribati-9358547.html.