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Mishcon Academy: Digital Sessions – Climate Migration - Exploring legal solutions

Posted on 01 February 2022

Conversations on the legal topics affecting businesses and individuals today.

Becca Hird

In this episode we speak to Alex Randall, a leading expert in climate driven migration and displacement and ask what are the potential legal solutions that are or could be available to those displaced by the effects of climate change.

Hello and welcome to the Mishcon Academy Digital Sessions podcast and to the third episode on the series on climate migration.  I am Becca Hird, an Associate in the Immigration Team and I am joined by my colleague, Adis Sehic, another Associate in the Team.  Today we will be speaking to Alex Randall, Programme Lead at the Climate and Migration Coalition, an organisation concerned with the rights and welfare of anyone who moves due to the impact of climate change.  In this podcast we will be exploring some of the current and prospective legal solutions in the Climate Migration Debate.  Alex is a leading expert in issues relating to climate driven displacement and has extensive experience in the field.  He has previously provided policy guidance to National and City Governments on their approach to climate driven migration and has also lead key advocacy work focussing on several global policy processes.

First of all welcome Alex and thank you so much for joining us on today’s podcast.  I think a good place to start would be if you wouldn’t mind giving us a short introduction about yourself, how you came to work in this field and of course the work of your organisation, the Climate and Migration Coalition?

Alex Randall

Thanks for having me on the podcast.  My name’s Alex and I work on a project called the Climate Change and Migration Coalition and what we do is we are really concerned with the rights and welfare of people who are on the move in the context of climate change and when I say the rights and welfare, we mean that in the broadest possible sense.  We are interested and concerned for example, with people who are on the move and their mental health, their health, their ability to seek asylum, to move to where they want to, to avoid exploitation in their new location and to move from one place to another when they need to safely and legally.  The project tries to assist with this in several different ways.  One of the keys ones is through thinking about what kind of legal protection people have when they are on the move, whether the existing immigration and asylum systems that we can see across the world at the moment are really geared up for an era of climate change and I think that’s one of the key defining questions of the project is when we look at this issue legally, when we look at the rights of people who are on the move in an era of climate change, are they going to be treated fairly, are they going to be able to move to the places that they need to move to, what will be their situation when they make that journey and when they arrive and what will be their legal status while they are on the move and when they get there and the project really exists because at the moment we feel like those are largely unanswered questions right.  They are questions that right now there is not a clear and straight forward answer to and in the project we try firstly to bring some clarity to that discussion, right.  We try to ask the question, what is it that people who are on the move are going to need?  And then secondly, we try to turn those needs and those requirements into tangible policy action because ultimately the project exists to try and, to try and bring about some kind of positive change in order to protect the rights and welfare of people who are moving.

Becca Hird

Amazing that is a really, really admirable aim and I know when we were researching the issue your, your organisation was one that came up front and centre so definitely for anyone who’s listening who’s interested, please do check out all the resources online.  I was wondering if you would talk a little bit about how you personally became interested in this issue because I know you know, you’ve been working on it for quite some time and I think for a lot of people it’s… including us actually… it’s quite a new issue but it has obviously been around for a long time so yeah, we would love to hear how you became interested and involved in the first place?

Alex Randall

Sure.  So I have been working on this project for a decade now and I came to this area of work from starting to work in climate change and one of the things that I did was work for the Government of Kiribati which is a small island developing state in the Pacific and I worked for then as a volunteer during the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009.  We are all kind of now quite familiar with the United Nations Climate Change talks right, because they were hosted in Glasgow this year so certainly in the UK they are very much on the political agenda and in the news at the moment but those, those negotiations have been going on every year for the last couple of decades and the round of talks that were held in Copenhagen all those years ago in 2009 were held up at the time – before the talks I should add – were presented as being the opportunity in which you know, the world was going to be saved, Governments were going to come together, they were going to agree, they were going to reach this fantastic global agreement and you know, and everything would be, would be okay afterwards.  I mean certainly in, in the media, in the West, in wealthier countries that was the story before these negotiations.  Now what we know now is that those talks were a total disaster right.  A kind of off the scale disaster really and one of the reasons that I think that is, is the case really, and I mean I felt like I kind of I saw this working for the, for the Government of Kiribati, was just the enormous disparity in the negotiating power that different countries bring to those negotiations and that negotiating power is skewed incredibly heavily towards the countries that basically have the resources, have got the money so  the team representing Kiribati was relatively small, it numbered maybe ten or so people.  I think that year the US bought several hundred negotiators, it was possible for them to cover every single stream of the negotiations, have several people in each meeting, have people in the background doing everything that needed to be done for their negotiators you know, to work in shifts, to be rested, to go into those talks able to represent the interests of their country very, very effectively.  I mean I’ve singled out the United States there but that situation is true largely of, of most wealthy countries and one of the things that just became very, very clear to me was that this, this was a huge injustice right.  This was essentially countries that had for decades had, had profited and had made their countries safe, liveable you know, all the things that the UK, US, Western Europe kind of has, were, were built during this period of fossil fuel expansion and for some of that time we didn’t really know about climate change but for an awful lot of it we knew exactly what was going on.  We knew, we knew the damage that was caused by the carbon emissions that were going out into the atmosphere and very little was done to curb them and then the other side of the equation is, is countries like Kiribati for whom I was working, volunteering at the time, who have done almost nothing to cause that problem right.  Their carbon emissions are incredibly low, they have a relatively short history of having access to fossil fuels at all really.  Many of those countries essentially were places that resources were simply extracted from during the colonial era in the case of Kiribati, it was a you know, part of the British empire so you have this, this incredible imbalance and of course one of the key impacts that many of these places, Kiribati included are likely to experience as a consequence of climate change is changes in the pattern of migration and displacement and I think, I guess I came to those negotiations all those years ago with element of naivety right, like I was, I was relatively young, I’d lived a kind of relatively kind of sheltered existence in a wealthy’ish country and I bought, I bought that baggage with me when I went there right and, and I am sort of embarrassed to say that like I hadn’t completely understood the impact that climate would have on these countries, the consequences that climate change would have on places like Kiribati and many, many other countries across the world and for me that was kind of a turning point and I moved at that point from working on climate change and having a focus on sort of energy policy in the UK and, and the way that we might kind of transform our energy infrastructure and reduce our carbon emissions here in, in Britain which is important, it is really important but for me I felt like I wanted to be a bit more engaged with the fact that there was this element of injustice, there were these ways in which hour emissions were having these kind of utterly transformative in a negative sense, catastrophic impact in, in other places and that was, that was when I started moving towards working on issues that connected climate change with disasters, human mobility and displacement.

Becca Hird

That is so interesting and is definitely something that it’s always difficult to I think to find a balance certainly in the immigration and policy sphere talking about the really big picture but also those… the really human aspects and individual tales and the effect that climate change has on, on people as often, I think it is something that’s really forgotten and it isn’t really central to much of the debate that we’ve heard about so that’s kind of in part why we are doing this podcast I suppose.  I think we wanted to move on, Adis I don’t know if you want to speak a little bit about what we are looking at in terms of the key frameworks?

Adis Sehic

Yeah thank you Becca.  I wondered if we could jump into the substantive part of this conversation by looking at the key frameworks that can be used to protect climate migrants or advance their interests.  I mean certainly from our conversations at COP Becca, a lot of people weren’t even aware of the term ‘Climate Migrants’ or even how this group of people is characterised particularly in international frameworks so I think if we, if we start with the top and with the basics, I think that will be helpful for our audience.

Alex Randall

Yeah absolutely.  So I think the key thing that we need to think about when we are talking about the rights and specifically the legal right of someone to move from one place to another potentially across an international border or maybe internally, is we need to take one step back and ask the question ‘how can we characterise this person’s mobility’ right and what are the driving forces behind their movement, what’s in the mix there that has led to this person deciding to move from one place to another and the reason that it is really important to do that is very often, and this will be very familiar to you as immigration lawyers, is the reason that someone is moving very often determines whether they are allowed to go from one place to another or not right.  So understanding what is behind someone’s mobility has huge implications for what their legal status is once they’ve moved whether they are allowed to cross an international border, whether they are not, whether they are turned back, whether they are deported.  A whole lot of it will depend on why they had to move in the first place.  And this is where it gets really complicated right because maybe it would be easier if there was just this clearly defined group of people who were climate migrants or climate refugees and it was very clear that this group of people were moving solely because of the impacts of climate change and for example, that they then needed to cross International borders.  Now that wouldn’t necessarily make life any simpler for them, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t suffer or were taking huge risks while they were moving but legally it would be a simpler policy question.  Unfortunately that is just simply not how climate change interacts with all of the other forces that potentially cause someone to move from one place to another and what we can really see when we are talking about climate link migration or climate driven displacement and you will see my language here, I am always saying like climate linked, climate driven, these kind of phrases that try to encapsulate the fact that it is part of a complex web of other forces that are causing people to move and when you look at the way that climate change is altering patterns of mobility, you could always see this web of forces leading to people moving and very often what we see is climate change interacting with the economy for example.  So you might for example have a situation where climate change leads to increased droughts, droughts that last longer or are more severe and as that drought takes effect, the income that it is possible to make from farming reduces.  How do people respond to that decline in income?  Some of them perhaps will decide to move in order to find work somewhere else.  Now are those people climate change migrants or are they people who’ve moved to find a different job?  Legally and I am sure you will understand this as people working on immigration.  As far as the law is concerned if they have crossed an International border in order find that work they are an economic migrant broadly but the legal system of most countries doesn’t have a way of sort of marking out that group of people who have this climate change dimension to their mobility, it sees them simply as people who have crossed the border in order to find a different job.

Becca Hird

It is actually really interesting because we made a subject access request to the Home Office to try and understand whether they even you know, considered climate as a reason for why people might claim asylum or move in any other category of immigration and they just came back and said, we don’t record this data and so it is exactly kind of point in case proven I think there which is phenomenal when you see the, see the figures.

Alex Randall

And I think there are several reasons right, why you found that I suspect and one of them is well perhaps the Home Office simply aren’t you know, aren’t interested in recording that information, it doesn’t, it doesn’t help them do what they want to do but the other one is that most people when they are seeking asylum obviously want to present a case which is going to maximise their ability to stay in the country of course that’s the, that’s the whole point so they are not going to make part of their case climate change because at the moment that has no legal status, it doesn’t, it doesn’t help them essentially.

Becca Hird

Yeah and certainly I think the, the Home Office and the UK Government as it stands would be very worried about opening kind of floodgates, that kind of claim so it makes sense as to why they wouldn’t.

Alex Randall

Yeah.  So we are in this kind of like legal grey area right, not only is there a real lack of legal protection for people who have this climate dimension to their mobility but also it is really unclear how we go about even creating that legal protection because it’s really hard for us to say, ‘look there’s clear group of people who are moving because of climate change’ and we need to change policy, we need to change the law in order to protect their rights and protect their welfare.

Becca Hird

Is there anywhere, any example that  you can think of that you have come across where there is some kind of framework and albeit it might not  work on a UK level or even across border level, we know that a lot of climate migration is, is internal displacement so that also adds another kind of level of complexity to the, to the discussion and I was just wondering if there’s, it there is any kind of framework or programme that you’ve come across that has been successful even if that’s only in part addressing some of the issues that come up in this discussion?

Alex Randall

Right yeah definitely so we should absolutely move on to what the actual solutions are rather than just getting stuck in the complexity of the problem  Yeah there are definitely ways of, of addressing this issue but I think the way to look at it is that there is no one size fits all piece of law, piece of policy, piece of legislation that just fixes this problem.  It is going to be a patchwork of different things that work in different contexts that provide a solution for different locations and people moving in different ways and some of those exist already right so again you will be familiar with some of these.  Many countries already have systems of what we call, temporary protection right, visas that are available for people who are maybe already in the UK or already in the US or already in whichever country they’ve moved to, whose country is then hit by some kind of disaster which potentially could be a climate driven climate related disaster like a hurricane, flash flooding or these other kinds of disasters that climate change exacerbates.  So there is a potential already to use these forms of temporary protection and humanitarian visas to create a situation in which people cannot be forcibly sent back to a country which is being badly impacted by climate change.  So I think using those existing systems and then extending temporary protection and humanitarian visas has great potential as well.  There are other things that are kind of available in, in the tool kit as well and one of the things that you mentioned which I think is really important is the fact that a huge amount of mobility that results from climate change is going to be internal.  Now we still have a question of how are the rights and the welfare of internal migrants and people who are displaced internally protected because it isn’t simply the case that we can say well they haven’t crossed the border so their rights are you know, going to be fine.  That simply isn’t the case.   Luckily what we do have is the guiding principles on internal displacement which is an agreement between countries, it’s not universally accepted and it is not legally binding but nonetheless lots of countries have signed up to these principles which set out how people’s rights are protected when they are displaced within their own country and what it does is it creates something akin to refugee status but for people who haven’t been forced across an International border.  Now that’s a really key agreement for us in this context because as climate change begins to exacerbate these kinds of disasters, flooding, hurricane and typhoon strikes and so on, those will create primarily internal displacement.  People will be forced to flee and they will by and large flee within their own country and not cross a border.  So the guiding principles on internal displacement take on this new importance in an era of climate change and I think it becomes urgent I think that those principles become more imbedded in Government policy, that Governments you know, continue to respect the principles that they’ve signed up to but we also need to ask the question, are the guiding principles on internal displacement geared up for the era of climate change, are they geared up for dealing with the likely increase in internal displacement and perhaps the new patterns of internal displacement that might result from climate change impacts so I think there is a, there is a question there as well which is like yes the guiding principles are really important, they are really important as climate change accelerates but we also need to renew our pressure on Governments to, to respect them, to sign up to them if they haven’t, to implement them properly and to ask that question, is something needed in addition to the guiding principles to, to make them fit for an era of climate change.

Adis Sehic

Alex, I wondered if perhaps it would be a useful sort of connector to look at the Refugee Convention because a lot of the time when people are trying to think about this issue and the communities that are displaced the word or the phrase that comes to mind for a lot of people is climate refugees and I think the reason for that initial connection is quite clear and the connection seems to be an obvious one to make but I just wondered if you could maybe talk about the issues with looking at this problem through the lens of the Refugee Convention and the limits there?

Alex Randall

Of course.  So yeah it is understandable that when people are talking and thinking about the connection between climate change and displacement, climate change and migration that they reach for this phrase ‘Climate Refugee’ and I think the reason that people use that phrase is because it is very easy to grasp isn’t it?  Like it is very easy to imagine what this situation is, it conjures up a powerful image.  The problem with it I think though is that it leads us down a path towards policy solutions that aren’t necessarily going to be very helpful and I think using the phrase climate refugee often implies that the correct place that this issue should be addressed is the Refugee Convention right.  So it is a very common argument that I hear where people start from this position of saying there are going to be more climate change refugees, what should we do?  Well given that they are climate change refugees perhaps we should update the Refugee Convention so that climate change becomes a legitimate reason for seeking refugee status.  So it has a kind of logic to it right but it just really isn’t going to work and I think there are several, there are several reasons why that’s the case.  The first one is that really, and again you’ll know this even better than I do as, as people working on immigration and as lawyers, is that it would be very, very difficult to prove that climate change alone had been the thing that drove you across an international border and from one country to another and usually when someone is making a case for asylum they need to be able to point to something very tangible and sort of, very narrow in order to say that they had to flee that country for their own safety you know, to protect themselves.

Becca Hird

Yeah and there’s also a really a key point in terms of legal framework that who’s the persecutor? 

Alex Randall

Exactly.

Becca Hird

You know which is just a, really an impossible way of dealing with the issue in our minds.

Alex Randall

Yeah and it ties the Refugee Convention in knots because for exactly that reason you say, who is the persecutor in this case that means this person has to flee, flee their country.  Now the only real answer to that is well the persecutor is the country which is emitting the carbon omission that are driving these climate related disasters in which case the person would be fleeing potentially to the country that is the persecutor and there are numerous other kind of legal tangles that are trying to address this issue via the Refugee Convention creates and my view is that it just, it just isn’t going to work.  The Refugee Convention does what it does and that’s really important but it isn’t going to be able to deal with the mobility that is created by climate change.  I think there is also a risk which is that you can’t simply add something to the Refugee Convention without also opening up a wider international debate about the role of the Refugee Convention.  Now it won’t be a surprise to any of you that the Refugee Convention is constantly under attack from Governments who would prefer I am sure that they really didn’t have to meet the obligations that it creates for them, they would be very keen to weaken it in all kinds of ways for all sorts of different reasons.  Obviously there are also Governments who meet their Refugee Convention obligations but the idea that we might open up this conversation and say, hey why don’t we renegotiate the Refugee Convention because climate change is upon us.  I think the likelihood is that what would come out the other end of that process, of that renegotiation of those conversations would be (a) something that didn’t actually help and (b) something which didn’t protect the people that the Refugee Convention protects at the moment.

Becca Hird

Yeah certainly a concern that any kind of change in this day and age with the Government that we have at the moment but yeah, there’s a real risk of weakening the protections that are already quite limited and are being limited further. I wonder also if there’s a… and you’ll be able to speak to this with much more authority than I can… but refugee also I am not sure encompasses the agency with which some people move as a result of climate change.  I don’t know is that something you’d kind of be happy to touch on?

Alex Randall

Absolutely.  I think it is really important that people are comfortable with the way that they are being described or even, even better perhaps that they are the people who chose the labels that are applied to them and certainly in the Pacific, in places like Kiribati, Tuvalu, there is a real resistance to using the phrase ‘Climate Refugee’ because people feel that it absolutely takes away their agency.  No one desires to be labelled a climate refugee or potentially to be treated as a climate refugee, they hope for something very, very different to that and it is always contrasted with the idea of migration with dignity and this is a phrase that has emerged in response to the idea of the climate refugee and it is really, it’s a phrase that was kind of created and popularised by people working on climate link mobility in the Pacific and came out of a conversation amongst those people where they said, well what is the kind of movement that we would like.  If mobility, if migration of some sort is inevitable, if some people from the Pacific islands, from Kiribati, from Tuvalu, from the Marshall Islands are going to have to move, what does that look like?  And the phrase that captured that for many of those people or for many of the civil society organisations that were, that were working with them, was this idea of migration with dignity and to me I think what they were reaching for there in that phrase is the idea that firstly the migration is chosen, right.  It happens at a point where people want to move, they move potentially with members of their existing community, maybe they keep families, households, communities intact.  They move and form part of new communities as well and when they arrive they are treated as citizens, as sort of full members in a community sense and a legal sense of the place that they have moved to, they find work you know, they can access the services that they can need.  They can become part of these new locations and that is very, very different to what is encapsulated by the idea of becoming a ‘Climate Refugee’.  So I think it’s yeah, it’s really important that we understand that although the phrase climate refugee is used, it is how a lot of people definitely in the global North, in Western countries, in English speaking countries engage with this issue and hear about this issue, it is also really important to remember that it isn’t in general how people who are affected by this kind of mobility want to be described and it doesn’t necessarily lead us down the particularly useful path when thinking about the legal mechanisms or the policies that might be used to address the issue.

Becca Hird

That’s so interesting.  Thank you for kind of sharing and elevating those voices. I know it was something that was focussed on a lot at, well certainly in the kind of green zone and grass roots organisations at COP this year so yeah, thank you for that.  I wonder if we could bring it back slightly down to the UK level.  In your work, do you look at the impact of climate migration in the UK and if you do, kind of, how is the UK most affected by this issue?  I think it is interesting particularly as an island, particularly with flooding in recent years and that kind of thing.  So I wondered if you wouldn’t mind speaking a little bit of the work that you do in relation to the UK?

Alex Randall

Sure.  So I think the really important point to, to recognise is that firstly and we’ve covered this a huge amount of climate mobility is going to be internal.  When people do cross International borders it is very often between neighbouring countries, countries that are geographically very close to each other where there is a land border that people can cross or its relatively easy to move from, from one county to another and the reason for that is that people very often when they are moving to cope with climate change impact are looking for the shortest, cheapest, safest way to move and by and large that doesn’t usually mean travelling thousands of miles, potentially moving to a country where you don’t have a legal right to stay, potentially moving to a country where you don’t speak the language or don’t know anyone.  So people are usually looking for short, safe options and sometimes that means crossing an International border and when it does it very often means crossing to a neighbouring country.  Now for the United Kingdom that puts us in many ways potentially sort out of the picture when it comes to locations that people might be thinking about moving to as a consequence of climate change right because we are already a long way from many of the countries which are going to be most seriously impacted by climate change and our immediate neighbours geographically are wealthier Northern European countries who by and large have resources that they can invest in creating the kinds of protection and by that, I mean like physical protection rather than legal protection, which mean that people don’t have to move right, they can invest in sea defences, they can invest in flood management, they can invest in emergency planning which reduces the likelihood of people being displaced.  If people really are forced into a crisis in, in wealthier countries it is much more likely that they will be assisted by their own Government in their own country, like moving to another country probably isn’t one of the things that they would see as being beneficial to their, to their welfare or, or in any way helping them cope better with the impact of climate change.  So I think the idea that the United Kingdom would see a large number of people wanting to move to the UK as a consequence of climate change I don’t think is credible but I don’t think that means that it’s not an issue for the UK at all and I think there are several really important places where the United Kingdom does mesh with this issue, does touch on this issue and I think the first one is that it is true that many people who are coming to the United Kingdom as refugees are primarily I would say, fleeing conflict and fleeing extreme poverty, I think that’s, that’s probably a fair assessment and also human rights violations.  Now just because those are the primary reasons that someone is seeking asylum in the UK, wanting to move to the UK, doesn’t mean that they won’t also have a climate change dimension to their movement.  Just because someone is primarily fleeing conflict or primarily wanting to move to get out of extreme poverty or primarily wanting to move because they are likely to be persecuted for some reason, doesn’t mean that they are not also impacted by climate change and I suspect that if we spoke to people who are making that journey we would very likely find that there were stories of climate driven disasters of flooding in those people’s experiences so yes it’s true that the UK won’t see large numbers of people with a very clear climate change cause wanting to seek asylum or migrate or move here but that doesn’t mean that the people who are moving don’t have, don’t have a climate change dimension to their movement as well potentially.  But what it does mean is that the things that the UK should be doing in my view politically, legally are more focussed on the UK Government’s role in the International arena rather than on its domestic policy right.  So I think key questions for me would be, is the UK championing the parts of the International process that are going to be useful in creating a safe environment for people who are on the move in an era of climate change right.  Is the UK talking about the importance of the guiding principles on internal displacement.  Is the UK leading by example and creating humanitarian visas right, which would be a useful thing for the UK to do.  Is the United Kingdom for example, getting behind the platform on disaster displacement which is another, kind of another state led voluntary mechanism in this space and I think at the moment because the UK doesn’t have this kind of immediate issue of people needing to come to the UK as a result of climate change, the UK’s role is much more one of playing a constructive role Internationally looking at these processes, saying publicly that these processes are important, leading by example where it can.  Broadly though at the moment I would say that the UK Government isn’t doing that.

Becca Hird

Yeah.  Yeah and I think everyone was disappointed with the role that the UK continues to seek to play on the International stage as a result of COP.

Adis Sehic

Yeah I think one of the things that myself and Becca found at COP was that there seem to be a great dissonance between the sort of official green and blue zones where you know certainly from some of the members and stakeholders there, there was quite a bit of enthusiasm and suggestions that real progress could be made and yet when you left those zones and sort of were out in some of the fringe areas and events where other activists were, were making sort of demonstrations and actually asking more from their leaders and there seemed to be quite a bit of frustration there.  I think it is interesting you pointed out your perception of the UK’s role in terms of International commitments and I was just wondering if you could expand more specifically as to, as to COP26 and whether the UK was actually, was actually able to sort of follow through on some the rhetoric that was certainly being spouted in the run up to the event now that that’s all said and done.

Alex Randall

Sure.  So I think there are a couple of things that it is really important to note about the COP process in general right before, before we, we think specifically about COP26 that’s just been in Glasgow.  When it comes to thinking about its connection between climate change and migration there are a few really key things that we need to remember about COP and the first one is that COP is primarily geared up and this is a kind of crude broad brush assessment, it’s primarily geared up to think about carbon emissions and money right.  It is not by and large geared up to think about the individual human rights of people.  That’s not to say that lots of what goes on at COP doesn’t happen through a lens of human rights, that human rights don’t play a really key role in, in shaping some of those negotiations but ultimately no Government goes to COP thinking that they might be asked to agree to a new system of legal rights for individuals.  That’s just not what they were planning to go to COP and do.  By and large they are going to COP to negotiate about how fast or slow they are going to reduce their own carbon emissions and what demands they want to make of other countries about the speed of reduction of their emissions and they are going there to try and negotiate around funding for adaptation and compensation basically.  So I think we need to recognise the things that COP can and can’t do when it comes to climate driven migration.  COP is not going to be the forum where a new legal right that protects people moving because of climate change is created.  But what it can do is potentially think about how this increase in climate driven displacement is compensated for and I think that’s, that’s a really, really important part of the COP process and we are starting to see that happen in what’s called the Loss and Damage Agenda.  And the Loss and Damage Agenda is essentially countries which are most impacted by climate change dealing with the consequences of the disasters that climate change brings, asking wealthier countries or demanding of wealthier countries that they receive – and in my view completely rightly – financial compensation for the fact that they have done almost nothing to create these disasters in the first place.  Wealthier countries have by and large built their economies off the back of fossil fuels and the emissions that they have created and now it to me, feels completely right that if a country is dealing with increased levels of climate driven displacement, that is a huge expense to that country.  That costs money like yes of course, like primarily we are thinking about the human consequences suffering the wel… you know, the welfare of the people who are displaced but for the Government they also need to think about how this is paid for and the Loss and Damage Agenda therefore forms a really important part of thinking about how climate driven displacement is dealt with because it isn’t only about people’s rights and about people’s welfare, it is also about a country, a nation’s ability to, to deal with that kind of displacement financially.  So COP potentially is a forum where that can be negotiated on and I think that’s really, really important.  What I would also say though and Adis, I think you, you know, your analysis here was spot on that inside the COP process there is perhaps a sense that progress is being made, that things are happening, that solutions are being sought and agreed upon but then as you, as you step back from that process and you speak to countries that are the most impacted, for example, their view will very often be that progress isn’t being made fast enough and then as you step back further and you start speaking to the civil society representatives and activists who are from those countries, their view tends to be you know, even more so that progress isn’t being made as fast as it could be, as it needs to be.

Becca Hird

I think that’s, that’s a really good note to end on.  Thank you so much for your time and your energy and sharing your expertise, it was so, so interesting.

Adis Sehic

Thank you so much to Alex Randall for joining us on the podcast today, I am sure that you, our audience, have found these insights incredibly fascinating and that you feel you have a better grasps of the issue of climate migration from a legal stand point.  I am Adis Sehic, joined by Becca Hird and Alex Randall and this was the third episode in a series of podcasts on the issue of climate migration.

The Digital Sessions are a new series of online events, videos and podcasts all available at Mishcon.com.  If you have any questions you’d like answered or suggestions of what you’d like us to cover, do let us know at digitalsessions@mishcon.com.

 

The Mishcon Academy Digital Sessions.  To access advice for businesses that is regularly updated, please visit Mishcon.com.

Our Climate Migration podcast looks at the rapidly growing issue of people being displaced due to climate change and the resulting migration around the world.

In the latest episode, Associates Adis Sehic and Becca Hird spoke with Alex Randall, Programme Lead at the Climate and Migration Coalition, about some of the current and prospective legal solutions that are and could be available to those displaced by the effects of climate change.

Alex is a leading expert in issues relating to climate-driven displacement and has extensive experience in the field, having previously provided policy guidance to national and city governments on their approach to climate driven migration and having led advocacy work focused on several global policy processes.


Visit the Academy for more learning, events, videos, podcasts and reports.

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