One Man's Bid to Be Recognized as World's First Official Climate Refugee

A 37-year-old man is petitioning the government of New Zealand to grant him, and by extension his children, asylum as the world’s first legally recognized climate refugee.

The case is of international significance, as global warming is already forcing tens of millions of people across the world to flee their homes.

This week, New Zealand resident Ioane Teitiota appealed the decision of the country’s immigration courts to deport him to Kiribati, on the grounds that forced relocation to this South Pacific nation—where safe water, agricultural food supply, and ultimately human survival are under threat—would violate his human rights.

The media is reporting that Teitiota, who was born in Kiribati, moved to New Zealand six years ago where they had three children.

Kiribati is the lowest sea-level nation in the world consisting of 33 islands that scientists warn are poised to be some of the hardest-hit by climate change. Even the nation’s president has urged its 100,000 citizens to leave, The Telegraph reports. The government of Kiribati recently moved forward to buy land from Fiji in case global warming forces mass relocation of its citizens, the BBC reports.

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