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“Climate Refugee”: Misnomer or Opportunity?

by Leeja Miller


The term “climate refugee” has been used frequently in the media and elsewhere to refer to the growing number of people being displaced by rising sea levels, land degradation, and large-scale natural disasters due to climate change.[1] The legal protections afforded to these displaced people are murky, however, and international legal definitions of who is considered a “refugee” leave those displaced by the effects of climate change largely without remedy. Developments in national and international jurisprudence and adaptive interpretations of international treaties may, however, mark the beginning stages of an international movement towards recognizing and granting legal protections to climate refugees.

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