By definition a refugee is someone persecuted for their race, sex, religion, or a plethora of other reasons and faces immediate danger to themselves or their family. This week the standard definition of a refugee was challenged as an unnamed man (due to legal reasons) argues his case for asylum in New Zealand.
Law experts believe his appeal is likely to be denied due to the nature of his persecution. This man comes from the island nation of Kiribati and he states that sea level rise due to climate change is his persecutor. According to the standard definition of climate change he must be singled out, sea level rise effects the lives of all the residents of Kiribati, an island nation at sea level or at its highest point just above sea level. Due to the broad effect of climate change he is not classified as a refugee due to the universal effect of climate change in Kiribati.
With this court case, even if denied, great changes to the legal definition of refugee will be made. Climate change does have an indirect human persecutor as the man's lawyer argues. But even with this defense the appeal is likely to be dismissed.
This man and his family are likely to be the first trickle of water to breach the dam before the ensuing flood. As many areas experience a change in climate agriculture will be greatly affected, people’s houses could be destroyed, and all of those affected will be forced to relocate elsewhere, mainly to the cities of the world. The climate refugee could in fact be the normal decades from now. Cities could be crowded with people removed from their homes by an inhuman foe.