High time to address the challenge of climate change refugees

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Climate & Environment

Press release

Every year millions of people are forced to flee from their homes, and in many cases their countries, because of floods, windstorms, earthquakes, droughts or other ravages of climate changes. Yet this phenomena - that is likely to increase - is almost neglected by international law and politicians in power. There is an urgent need to address this challenge and guarantee adequate protection for affected people - these are the main conclusions of the seminar organised today by the S&D Group.
 
S&D spokesperson for human rights Soraya Post said:
 
“Climate change is driving more and more people from their homes. It’s a reality. In 2016 alone there was an estimated 23,5 million people displaced due to extreme weather-related disasters. The horrible thing is that these are, in many cases, the most vulnerable populations who have contributed the least to climate change. Climate change particularly affects the poorest parts of the world, where of course women and children are living in poverty.
 
“Yet these people are not offered enough legal protection. We must protect these people and safeguard their human rights.
 
“It is now time for individual states and the international community to recognise their shared responsibility and to step up their commitment to combat climate change with a comprehensive and coherent policy. It is crucial to take into account the environment, climate change, inequality, and the movement of people and bring them together in a responsible global political mind-set in the fight for climate justice. Without equality, there is no sustainability. Without sustained action on climate change, the displacement of people will continue to rise.”
 
Antonio Panzeri, chair of the human rights subcommittee, added: 
 
“Researchers predict that more and more people will be seeking asylum, as temperatures in their home countries are projected to rise.  It’s also clear that climate change could lead to conflicts and threaten our global security, especially in regions where states are fragile and not democratic. We in Europe have to be particularly aware of this and take the lead in the full implementation of the global climate agreement agreed in Paris in 2015 that aims to reduce the rise of temperatures. That is a duty for us, Socialists and Democrats: There is still a relevant part of this Parliament that thinks that migration is a kind of accident in our history and that climate change came up from a left's pathology. We want to fight the dullness and the ignorance through a political and cultural jolt.”