Protect Climate Change Refugees

Target: António Guterres, United Nations Commissioner for Refugees

Goal: Designate people pushed from their home by climate change as refugees and take steps to protect these people.

In the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, the plight of displaced people everywhere has moved into the spotlight. But some people who are being pushed from their homes are still ignored. Rising sea levels are changing landscapes and encroaching on coastal villages. People’s livelihoods are disappearing as the ocean threatens to submerge their homes. Yet not one country has prepared a plan for these people. The United Nations does not even designate them as refugees.

With each passing year, the number of people whose dwellings become uninhabitable due to climate change increases. In the near future, migration of people from coastal lands will become commonplace; but as of now, they have nowhere to go. Fossil fuel burning, industrial agriculture, and pollution destroy the Earth’s atmosphere indiscriminately. Large developed countries such as China and the U.S. are the largest contributors to climate change–yet most of its primary victims do not live in developed areas. Many are subsistence farmers or fishermen, who will find it difficult or impossible to move their lives elsewhere.

Developed nations of the world need to take responsibility for the damage they have been instrumental in causing. As landscapes around the globe begin to change, and the potential for natural disaster increases, we must develop plans to aid people who will receive the brunt of the damage. The UN definition of refugees must evolve to encompass these people. Sign the petition below to urge the UN to designate people displaced by climate change as refugees, and to develop plans to protect these people from impending crises.


Dear Commissioner Guterres,

The actions of industrialized nations are widely accepted as the largest drivers of climate change. Climate change is threatening coastal habitations worldwide, as well as contributing to increased frequency of erratic weather patterns and potential for natural disasters. People are already being affected by this changing reality, and far more will be affected in the future. Despite this, the UN has taken no steps to protect these people. Migrants forced to leave their homes due to rising sea levels will not even be classified as refugees under the UN’s current definition.

Many of the people who are, or will be, affected by climate change are those with limited options. They may be subsistence fishermen living in coastal towns, or farmers threatened by changing soil and seasons. These people have not contributed to the driving forces behind climate change, yet they must bare its life-altering affects.

I am urging the UN to take actions to protect these climate change refugees. Refugees are not just persecuted peoples, but all who are pushed from their homes by forces far outside their own control. Developed nations must take responsibility for the damage their actions have caused. Please change the definition of refugees to include those uprooted by climate change, and develop a plan to protect these people from the hardship they face.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Stevie Mann

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