Of the major world leaders, Pope Francis alone has begged affluent countries to relax their border policies and admit more climate migrants. His pleas have not been heeded, even as thousands of Africans have perished in the Mediterranean trying to make the crossing to southern Europe.
A legal structure that protects such people is sorely needed.
At the moment, the Refugee Convention of 1951, drawn up in the context of the Cold War, deals with political refugees — not climate refugees who’ve had their homes and livelihood destroyed because of disasters of the weather.
It is true that in the case of earthquakes and hurricanes, the US has offered relief and shelter to those so affected.
However, we are not talking of temporary relief, but of a situation which has all the makings of a permanent crisis — as in Pacific islands being swallowed by the seas, or large areas of Saharan countries turned into deserts.