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  • Rising sea levels, coupled with an increase in severe storms,

  • destroy homes and ruin livelihoods.

  • But how can the law help?

  • Can it help provide a solution?

  • You'll learn what lawmakers are doing to deal with this threat.

  • What is behind rising sea levels

  • and increasingly severe and unpredictable storms?

  • Can anyone be blamed?

  • Why those most affected are often least to blame...

  • and how the law can help them.

  • 40% of people live within 100km of the coast

  • and one in ten of us live in coastal areas

  • that are less than 10m above sea level.

  • Sea levels are rising.

  • According to the United Nations,

  • recent rises are the fastest in nearly 3,000 years.

  • Rising seas and storms wash away the land, flood homes,

  • ruin drinking water supplies

  • and poison our crops.

  • It's driven by rising temperatures melting polar ice

  • and even expanding the water that is already there.

  • And scientists agree:

  • humans are the cause.

  • It's impossible to blame any one person,

  • country or company,

  • but it's clear the impact won't be fair.

  • Smaller island countries will be hardest hit,

  • but they often create very little pollution.

  • So, how can they get help?

  • Francesco Sindico, from the University of Strathclyde

  • and the Climate Change Litigation Initiative,

  • explained why this issue would take a long time to solve internationally.

  • It will be very difficult for international law

  • to operate at the same speed of national law,

  • where you have laws created by a parliament,

  • enforced byfor examplethe police,

  • and judges that can take decisions.

  • That's not how international law works,

  • and because there are so many countries,

  • on such a very complex matters, often there is a compromise,

  • which means that things will be dealt with slowly.

  • Unlike national law,

  • international law doesn't have just one country making rules;

  • lots of countries are involved,

  • which means they take time to come to a compromise agreement.

  • So, how easy is it to find out who's responsible?

  • It is very difficult to pinpoint

  • a country or an actor responsible

  • for an island that may... or is already sinking.

  • The problem is climate change.

  • The emissions are coming from all over the world.

  • Having said that, in the last five to ten years,

  • there is a clearer understanding

  • that some countries and some private actors

  • are more responsible than others.

  • The nature of climate change makes it very hard to identify

  • who is responsible for something like a sinking island.

  • So, what have people done

  • to identify who is responsible, legally?

  • Five or ten years ago, a study called the Carbon Majors study

  • highlighted that the overwhelming majority

  • of the emissionsof the problem

  • really comes from a handful of companies.

  • And individuals have used this study

  • to go in front of a judge and tell him or her:

  • 'Look. Now, we know that there's a connection

  • between the problemclimate change

  • and the activity of these companies.'

  • More research is being done into climate change.

  • Some campaigners use studies as evidence

  • to prove a company's responsibility.

  • And who are these campaigners?

  • We have children, literally,

  • going after the governments of the countries where they live.

  • At the same time, you also have elderly people

  • who are seeing their livelihood suffering because of climate change

  • and are using all sorts of law:

  • human rightsthey're using international law

  • and they're using a number of very interesting,

  • even creative, new legal strategies.

  • A huge range of people are campaigning.

  • Children and the elderly are getting involved,

  • using human rights and international laws in creative ways.

  • So, that shows how hard it can be for the law

  • to protect a sinking island.

  • Now, let's take a look at the people

  • who are trying to live on these vanishing islands.

  • The entire Pacific region contributes

  • just 0.03% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Seventeen-year-old Hereiti lives on Rarotonga,

  • one of the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

  • As a Polynesian person, I have a connection to it.

  • Since we first started voyaging across it,

  • it's been the lifeblood of our islands and our culture.

  • But with rising sea levels and pollution, I feel like that...

  • that history that we've had for thousands of years

  • might end up being lost.

  • Rising sea levels result in strong wave action and coastal flooding,

  • causing the coast to erode.

  • We're seeing a lot of coastal erosion happening

  • on all our islands here in the Cook Islands,

  • particularly around the northern islands

  • because there are low-lying atolls.

  • We might have to consider relocating to higher areas

  • so, inland moreand abandon the coast.

  • But where do people like these go?

  • And how can the law help them?

  • We spoke to Simon Behrman,

  • a law professor from the University of Warwick.

  • He specialises in how the law helps refugees.

  • He explained the situation for people forced to move by climate change.

  • So, there's not much, in terms of laws,

  • that allow people to move from one country to another.

  • Some parts of the world have their own individual laws

  • that give some rights to people to enter for work visas,

  • but in the main the only recourse that people will have

  • are to some aspects of human rights law,

  • such as, for example, the right to life,

  • which may help people claim a right to live elsewhere.

  • People aren't allowed to move to another country due to climate change.

  • But human rights laws can help them try.

  • He explains the limits of refugee law.

  • But a refugee is defined in very narrow terms in international law.

  • Essentially, you have to prove that you have been persecuted

  • and that is why you have left your country of origin,

  • but obviously climate changeor the effects of climate change

  • don't persecute people, and so as a result,

  • unfortunately, at the moment, people fleeing the effects of climate change

  • do not have access to the protection of international refugee law.

  • You can only be a refugee if you are being persecuted

  • treated badly because of something like your gender, race or beliefs.

  • Climate change doesn't persecute.

  • So, what laws are being used to help?

  • The main route at the moment is to bring cases

  • related to the principle of non-refoulement.

  • This principle simply means that people cannot be sent back

  • to places where they face a serious risk of harm.

  • Lawyers are attempting to argue that in some parts of the world

  • the effects of climate change are so severe,

  • that sending people back there would violate that principle.

  • Without refugee status, lawyers are using 'non-refoulement' principles:

  • they ban sending people back into a dangerous place

  • where they are at risk of harm.

  • So, is this enough?

  • The numbers of climate refugees are estimated

  • to reach many tens of millions of people this century,

  • possibly many more than those displaced by wars and persecution.

  • Already, millions of people every year are having to leave their homes

  • because of climate change. Some entire countries,

  • such as certain Pacific island states,

  • are predicted to become completely uninhabitable

  • over the next ten to twenty years.

  • We have a responsibility to help these people.

  • Simon thinks the size of the problem means

  • the law around people forced out of their homes

  • due to climate crisis should change.

  • We've seen the scale of the problem for the law.

  • It's very hard to say who's responsible for a sinking island.

  • But we've seen that the law is changing to fix that.

  • And we've seen that lawyers are working to keep people

  • who are at risk safe in the future.

Rising sea levels, coupled with an increase in severe storms,

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B1 climate change climate people rising refugee international law

How do we stop islands sinking? - BBC Learning English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/10/19
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