Petition: Include Climate Refugees in the Definition of Refugee in International Law

Please sign this petition to support the inclusion of climate refugees under the definition of refugee in international law.

Climate refugees fleeing conditions created by changes to climate and extreme weather events are not currently able to seek protection as refugees despite the urgent assistance they require. Their inclusion in the definition of ‘refugee’ will allow climate refugees access to the rights that come with refugee status, including:

the guarantee that they will not be required to return to the country where they face serious threats to their lives or freedoms
the right to keep their family together
protection against discrimination on the basis of a protected class
freedom from punishment for violation of migration laws
access to courts, primary education, work, and official documentation.

These rights are as important to those fleeing climate change, as those fleeing other dangers.

A 'refugee' is presently defined as someone who has crossed an international border owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

This excludes climate refugees from recognition in international law. The fact that climate refugees often move within their own country rather than across its borders further excludes them from recognition by the law.

In 1990 the IPCC predicted that the greatest impact of the climate crisis would be on human migration. In 2018 the UN acknowledged the impact of the climate crisis on human migration. Yet, current policy and international law do not reflect the present reality.

International organisations such as the UNHCR, as well as national governments, must expand their definition of refugee to include those that have been displaced by changing climatic conditions and extreme weather events. This will increase the accessibility of aid and protection to those that need it, as well as focus attention on the problem of human displacement created by the climate crisis.

Sign the petition here:

By Louder than the Storm Political Lead, MacGregor Cox


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