In its latest annual report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has finally acknowledged that climate change is driving people to leave their homelands.
The report literally states that "the interplay of climate, conflict, hunger, poverty and persecution creates emergencies of increasing complexity."
And although this clarification of the position on climate change is rather symbolic, it is an important step towards recognizing the danger they pose. The UN has previously stated that rapid climate change will increase the global level of migration. But the latest report directly indicates that the new forced migrants are precisely “climate refugees”. In particular, they will not be able to return to their homes at a later date, unlike those hiding from prolonged political or religious persecution.
Unfortunately, the appearance of the term "climate refugees" in the official report does not help them in any way. For example, the formal legal definition of a refugee does not yet mention climate impact in any way.
“Given the current political disposition in the US and the Eurozone, I do not think that the definition of a refugee can now be changed by formal procedures, ” said Idian Salehian, a political scientist at the University of Texas. "But I think the UN recognizes the fact that these are the conditions that make people flee, and to which [world governments] will have to respond - at least in practice."