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Climate Change Talk: The Plight of Climate Refugees: Rising Seas, Melting Ice, and Inadequate Legal Protections

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Location: S0.19

The Plight of Climate Refugees: Rising Seas, Melting Ice, and Inadequate Legal Protections

Friday 14th October, 4pm

Professor Randall Abate (Florida Agricultural and Medical University College of Law, Orlando)

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu aptly described the threat of sea-level rise and the impending inundation of his island nation as a “slow and insidious form of terrorism against us.” From the Arctic to the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific, Tuvalu is one of many vulnerable nations and communities that faces the threat of imminent relocation due to climate change impacts. These populations must confront either the threat of “internal displacement” (such as indigenous communities in Alaska that must relocate to another area within Alaska to remain safe) or the threat of “transboundary displacement” (such as Pacific Island nations that must relocate their citizens to another country to remain safe). Regardless of the type of displacement at issue, one reality is disturbingly clear: existing legal protections do not address the plight of climate refugees. This presentation analyzes how international environmental law, international human rights law, and U.S. domestic law fail to protect these vulnerable and marginalized populations and proposes possible solutions to protect climate refugees.

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