Climate Refugees: Pathways for Justice

Guy Goodwin-Gill, University of New South Wales

Guy Goodwin-Gill addressed Climate Refugees: Pathways for Justice and began by explaining why there is good reason to avoid the term ‘climate refugees.’ ‘Climate refugees’ do not fit within existing international law definitional or procedural arrangements. As a consequence the UN High Commission for Refugees’ mandate, although evolving, has not been extended by the UN General Assembly to those displaced by disaster. After the definitional issue was explained, two substantive risks were raised, firstly the numbers of ‘climate refugees’ and secondly the seductive appeal of the temporary. The value of a longer-term approach to those displaced was noted. An encompassing, rather than individualistic, approach to climate change displacement may be required to [meet these challenges]. The presentation questioned above all whether there is a need for protection for those displaced by climate change, as historically it is the very need for protection that underpins the international legal regime.

This talk was held at:

Imagining a Different Future

Climate Justice Conference

The University of Tasmania with the support of the University of Utrecht Ethics Institute hosted a multidisciplinary conference examining the barriers to responding to climate change, implementing climate justice, and proposing ways forward. Among the keynote speakers were Law Faculty Professors Jan McDonald and Ben Richardson. The Law Faculty's Dr Peter Lawrence co-convened the conference with Jan Linehan. The conference took place in Hobart from 8-9 Feb 2018.

Despite the Paris Agreement, there are real concerns the prevailing neoliberal economic and political model, particularly with the move to more insular, nationalistic, fragile politics, cannot respond effectively to climate change and excludes key considerations such as ethics and justice. Videos and Podcasts from the conference are available on the Knowledge Hub.