Ioane Teitiota and his wife fought for years to stay in New Zealand as refugees, arguing that rising sea levels caused by climate change threaten the very existence of the tiny Pacific island nation they fled, one of the lowest-lying countries on Earth.
While New Zealand’s courts didn’t dispute high tides pose a risk to Kiribati, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, laws dealing with refugees didn’t address the danger so the government deported them.
No nation offers asylum or other legal protections to people displaced specifically because of climate change. President Joe Biden’s administration is studying the idea, and climate migration is expected to be discussed at his first climate summit, held virtually Thursday and Friday.
Source: Associated Press – JULIE WATSON