Eastern European Journal of Transnational Relations (Dec 2021)

The definition and the issue of climate refugees in the light of international law

  • Sylwia Leszczuk

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5, no. 1


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As the problem of global warming and subsequent climate change becomes more and more pronounced, causing a lot of difficulties for the communities all over the world, and for the whole humankind as well, the need to focus on some of the aspects of such state off affairs arises among researchers and in the political discourse. Some of the problems that sprung out of the changes in our environment create the need for a new legal solutions, or the need to at least redefine the ones that are already set in place. One of such problems is the phenomenon of „climate refugees”. Droughts, food insecurity, degradation of drinking water, rising sea levels, storm surges and infectious diseases, all of which could be linked (directly or indirectly) to the changes brought about by the global warming and all of those can be reasons that could force people out of their habitual homes in search of better living conditions, and even due to the need to save their health and life. Having that in mind, this article raises the issue of so called climate refugees, people displaced due to the negative changes taking place in the environment, which, based on scientific reports, may be related to the negative impact of a human activity, both of sudden and long-term occurrence. The text presents proposals for defining the discussed phenomenon and addresses the issue of the lack of an appropriate legal framework regulating the discussed topic in the UN and on the EU level.