World’s first ‘climate change refugee’ has appeal rejected as New Zealand rules Ioane Teitiota must return to South Pacific island nation of Kiribati - Australasia - World - The Independent

 

World’s first ‘climate change refugee’ has appeal rejected as New Zealand rules Ioane Teitiota must return to South Pacific island nation of Kiribati

Ioane Teitiota, from the South Pacific island nation of Kiribati, had hoped to become the world’s first climate change refugee. His low-lying homeland is likely to be engulfed by waves by the end of this century – and to become uninhabitable long before then.

But the Court of Appeal in New Zealand, where Mr Teitioa, 37, has been living since 2007, took an old-fashioned view of what constitutes a refugee. In a ruling yesterday, it called his case “fundamentally misconceived”, and an attempt to “stand the [UN refugee] convention on its head”.

The decision means Mr Teitioa and his family will be deported, as his work visa expired in 2010. Mr Teitioa was a subsistence farmer and fisherman in Kiribati, a string of 33 coral atolls, and he argued he faced “passive persecution” if forced to return home, as the government there was unable to protect him from climate change’s effects.

Rejecting his submissions, the Court of Appeal called them “novel” but “unconvincing”, and noted that millions of other people in low-lying countries were in a similar situation.

It added that while Mr Teitioa’s economic prospects might be better in New Zealand, “his position does not appear to be different from that of any other Kiribati national”.

Read more: The health of our oceans is ‘spiralling downward’

Storm surges and flooding are already causing environmental degradation in Kiribati, part of the former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The water table is becoming contaminated by salt, making it difficult to grow crops there.

The country’s president, Anote Tong, has highlighted its plight at international forums, calling on wealthy, developed nations – those primarily responsible for global warming – to help Kiribati. With an eye to the future, the country has bought land in Fiji as a potential resettlement site.

It is also considering building an artificial island as an alternative home for its 100,000 population.

Mr Teitioa told the court that he and his family – including three children born in New Zealand – faced “serious harm’ if forced to return. However, the judges backed the view of the High Court and an immigration tribunal, which concluded that they “could resume their prior subsistence life with dignity”.

They also warned that if Mr Teitioa’s arguments were accepted there and in other jurisdictions, “at a stroke, millions of people who are facing medium-term economic deprivation, or the immediate consequences of natural disasters or warfare … would be entitled to protection under the Refugee Convention”.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Project Manager (upgrades, rollouts, migrations)

£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...

IT Administrator - Graduate

£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

Year 4 Teacher

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Year 4 Teacher - NestonRandsta...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week