Environmental Refugees

The Washington Post discusses eco-migration today:

In Bangladesh, about 12 million to 17 million people have fled their homes in recent decades because of environmental disasters — and the low-lying country is likely to experience more intense flooding in the future. In several countries in Africa’s Sahel region, bordering the Sahara, about 10 million people have been driven to move by droughts and famines.

In the Philippines, upwards of 4 million people have moved from lowlands to highlands as a result of deforestation. And in an earlier era, about 2.5 million Americans became ecomigrants after droughts and land degradation during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.

We’re seeing the beginning of this with climate change, as this article reports.

In my view, there is a serious argument that the industrialized world — particularly the U.S. — carries an obligation to assist with the adjustment to climate change, as this paper discusses. Given that the bulk of emissions come from industrialized countries, do those countries have a special obligation to assist the movement and resettling of these populations —  or even to recognize “climate refugees” as a distinct category of permissible immigrants?  Does international human rights law provide a basis for recognizing such a duty?

, , , ,

Reader Comments

About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more