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Human rights advocates are cheering a landmark decision by the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) mandating that governments must take into account the human rights violations caused by the climate crisis when considering the deportation of asylum seekers. In the decision, the UNHRC outlined that countries could violate people’s international rights if they force them back to countries where climate change poses an immediate threat.
As the Guardian explained, the judgment represents a legal “tipping point” and a moment that “opens the doorway” to future protection claims for people whose lives and wellbeing have been threatened due to global heating, experts say.
The Decision: CNN reported that the UN’s Human Rights Committee was making a judgment on the case of Ioane Teitiota, who applied for protection from New Zealand after claiming his life was at risk in his home country of Kiribati. The Pacific island is at risk of becoming the first country to disappear under rising sea levels.
The committee ruled against Teitiota on the basis that his life was not at imminent risk — but it also outlined that countries could violate people’s international rights if they force them back to countries where climate change poses an immediate threat.
It’s unlikely the ruling will have an immediate impact on citizens of other countries, given that even Kiribati’s dire situation did not meet the threshold for Teitiota’s claim to succeed.
But the decision could have a significant impact on future claims, as the number of people forced from their homes from the intensifying climate emergency grows.
However, as the Guardian pointed out: while the judgment is not formally binding on countries, it points to legal obligations that countries have under international law.
The Reaction: Amnesty International praised the decision as “good news” and said in a statement that it could help prompt the international community to take concrete action to sharply reduce fossil fuel emissions as quickly as possible in hopes of limiting global warming to 1.5º Celsius.
Why This Matters: As the Conversation explained, by the middle of this century, experts estimate that climate change is likely to displace between 150 and 300 million people. If this group formed a country, it would be the fourth-largest in the world, with a population nearly as large as that of the United States. Climate refugees are going to become an increasing proportion of asylum seekers and nations will have to adjust their immigration policies accordingly.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer World leaders from the Group of 7 countries wrapped up their first post-pandemic in-person summit on Sunday, and the climate crisis was one of the primary agenda items. The heads of state from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan (as well as the European Union) Agreed […]
The nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, has reached record lows (at only 36% full) in the face of a severe drought sweeping the western U.S. The reservoir supplies drinking water for 25 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and more.
For generations, Native Alaskans have stored their food year-round in icy cellars that have been dug deep underground, but recently many of these cellars are either becoming too warm so that the food spoils or failing completely due to flooding or collapse Civil Eats’ Kayla Frost reported from Alaska. The cellars, known as siġluaqs, are usually about 10 to 20 feet below the surface and consist of a small room that used to be consistently about 10 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
Why This Matters: The loss of these natural freezers could be devastating to Native Alaskans.
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