Climate refugees granted New Zealand residency
A family from the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has been granted New Zealand residency by a court. The family has been granted legal status after claiming to be climate change refugees. Environmental lawyer David Estrin explained that Tuvalu is vulnerable to rising sea levels. He added that although the court ruling was not precedent setting, more people from small countries susceptible to flooding may apply for refugee status overseas.
The family is believed to be the first granted residency on humanitarian grounds because climate change was a factor. According to reports the family of four moved to New Zealand in 2007. Although an application for refugee status made in 2012 was turned down in March 2013 a later appeal was accepted on humanitarian grounds.
The appeal was likely helped because the family’s two children were born in the country. Tuvalu is a remote Pacific island situated between Australia and Hawaii. At just two metres above sea level, the island could disappear if sea levels rise.
According to climate scientists the next hundred years could see levels rise by as much as a metre because of carbon emissions that cause global warming.
According to leading scientists the impact of climate change will inevitably lead to many more applications for refugee status.
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