Surprise: First Climate Change Refugee Appeal Officially Rejected

Posted: Nov 30, 2013 1:29 PM

Townhall covered a Pacific Islander's attempt to become the first climate change refugee and avoid deportation from New Zealand. It's official: the High Court described the appeal as "novel," but ultimately inadequate.

If you missed the original story, here is the background:

France 24 reports that the man, Ioane Teitiota, is currently appealing the New Zealand High Court's decision to refuse him refugee status on the basis of climate change predictions.

Teitiota, 37, has had three children in New Zealand and argues that returning to Kiribati would endanger his family:

“There’s no future for us when we go back to Kiribati,” he told the appeal tribunal, adding that a return would pose a risk to his children’s health. ... “Fresh water is a basic human right ... the Kiribati government is unable, and perhaps unwilling, to guarantee these things because it’s completely beyond their control,” [his lawyer] told Radio New Zealand.

Thankfully, this case is finally closed (assuming he doesn't attempt to appeal the ruling on his appeal - a futile exercise). He and his family will likely be deported to his home in Kiribati soon.

Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the whole affair is that, despite thwarting Teitiota's attempt, both New Zealand and Kiribati have taken UN climate change warnings very seriously and are taking pre-emptive action. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Worries over the impact of rising sea levels prompted the Kiribati government to buy 6,000 acres of land in neighboring Fiji this year to grow food and potentially resettle some of its 100,000 people if the country were to become uninhabitable.

Last month, the United Nations reiterated in a landmark report that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal," saying that air and oceans are getting warmer, ice and snow are less plentiful and sea levels are rising. New Zealand has made tackling climate change an environmental priority, and rolled out an emissions-trading program in 2011.

Recommended Townhall Video