KOLKATA (India): A French court cited degradation of the environment while ruling an extradition hearing on migration, resulting in a man avoiding deportation, because sending him back to his country of origin could potentially kill him.
The judgment is being seen as a landmark decision that defines the impact of the ailing environment and its effect on human migration and migration politics.
A Bangladeshi man’s deportation was called off by a French court over migration issues after his lawyer argued that the man, who has asthma, might succumb to severe deterioration of his condition, or even premature death if forced to return to his country of origin, what happened to be one of the world’s most polluted nations — Bangladesh, the Guardian reported.
The court ruling, citing environment and inhabiting a deportation order is reportedly a French legal first, and it underscores the dire need for governments and authorities to recognize the bane of climate change, and its disastrous effects on humanity.
As per Yale and Columbia universities’ environmental performance index, Bangladesh has been ranked as the 179th in the world in terms of air quality, a far cry from accepted breathability, with the fine air concentration six times more than what the World Health Organization recommends as minium.
With pollution becoming mainstream in more and more cities and habitats around the world, climate-change-induced migration is predicted to touch newer heights. The man who avoided facing deportation from France because that would risk his health is certainly not a reclusive case.
A 2001 report by the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimated some 25 million people would be forced to migrate owing to climate-change-related issues like the erosion of the beaches, salination of agricultural lands along with other effects.
In 2005, the count spiked to some 50 million people who were forced to move from their homes, UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security warned, urging the international community to prepare to host the mass migrations.
According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, “when global warming takes hold, there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by
disruptions of monsoon systems and other rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented severity and duration, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding”, Professor Norman Myers of Oxford University said.
Barrister Sailesh Mehta says governments and leaders must quickly recognize the fact that air and water pollution do not respect national boundaries, and that with the rise of global warming, mass migration will become a norm.
“We have a right to breathe clean air. Governments and courts are beginning to recognize this fundamental human right. The problem is not just that of Bangladesh and the developing world. Air pollution contributes to around 200,000 deaths a year in the UK. One in four deaths worldwide can be linked to pollution,” Mehta said. He specializes in environmental cases, the Guardian reported.
The case of the Bangladeshi man who averted deportation from environmental cause is not the only one. Rather it was the one that got attention, and millions of such cases go unnoticed. “Air pollution is a global public health disaster that does not get the attention it deserves because most of the people who die are poor or otherwise vulnerable,” Dr. David R Boyd, UN special rapporteur on human rights and environment, told the Guardian.
To address the challenge, Climate & Migration Coalition co-ordinator, Alex Randall says government must facilitate safe and legal routes for migration. The Environmental Justice Foundation highlights, one person, every 1.3 second leaves home and migrate because climate change forces them to do so.
The world faces an unprecedented crisis from the frustration of the effect of progress and the industrial revolution. Currently, only 1 percent of the world is unbearably hot to inhabit, but it could go upto 19 percent by 2070, The New York Times reports.
A pathbreaking study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals in the next 50 years, the planet could encounter heating at such scale, it would surpass the same for the last 6000 years combined.