Refugees: Climate Change

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 29th January 2020.

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Photo of Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Foreign Intervention), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for the Government's policies of the ruling of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on climate change refugee repatriation.

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The British Government has taken note of the views of the UN Human Rights Committee's in the case concerned, which are not legally binding. We also note that the Committee made wider comments, including on the responsibilities of receiving states in relation to non-refoulement where the effects of climate change have been a driver of migration. However under the 1951 Refugee Convention, climate change does not of itself constitute a basis for requesting/granting refugee status.

Evidence shows that climate extremes and environmental degradation are often amplifiers of other principal migration drivers (economic, social and political), but decisions to migrate are rarely mono-causal. We recognise the complexity of causes of migration and the importance of providing people with options for sustainable livelihoods that do not compel them to migrate. More broadly, as climate change increases its impact on migration it is imperative that efforts are redoubled to limit warming and to help vulnerable people to adapt to change. Climate change is a reality that requires greater and more coordinated adaptation and mitigation planning.

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