Investigating the Possibility for an International Regime on Climate Refugees

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Tina Nybo Jensen
4. semester, Udviklingsstudier, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
The focus of this study is the possibility for the formation of an international regime on climate refugees. Climate change is widely accepted as one of the major challenges for the international society in the 21st century. At first the international society initiated mitigation effort (as e.g. the Kyoto Protocol) to prevent climate change - but it proved to be too little too late. Therefore, it is now necessary to develop adaptation strategies that will enable us to live in a world with slow-onset natural changes as well as dramatic hazards. One of the single largest impacts of climate change is predicted to be climate refugees. It is estimated that by 2050 150-200 million people will be forced to flee from their place of residence due to change in sea level, floods and droughts etc.
This paper research the possibility for the formation of a regime on climate refugees based on the current knowledgebase as well as the power relations in the international society: How is the state of knowledge on climate refugees, and how do knowledge and power relations influence the formation of an international regime on climate refugees? This research question is analysed through Dimitrov’s Disaggregation of Knowledge theory and the two international relations theories: Realism and Liberal Insitutionalism. It is a qualitative case study that goes in depth with the current state of knowledge on climate refugees, the implications of that knowledge as well as the influence of power and interests in the international community. Finally, it suggests some future steps towards a regime on climate refugees.
The main finding of the research is, that currently (based on the theoretical framework applied in this research) the possibility for a comprehensive global regime on climate refugees is vanishingly small. In general the issue area suffers from mainly being a future challenge, hence, much of the knowledge are future estimates and projections – an uncertainty that makes states reluctant to act now. Additionally, the least powerful countries are estimated to be most severely affected by climate change and climate refugees – a fact that can make a global solution indeed very difficult. This research suggests that future steps towards a global regime on climate refugees can either be less comprehensive or be based on compromises. Nevertheless, a regional regime would probably be a more feasible and more effective solution. Furthermore, additional research should be done on the relationship between governance and adaptation capabilities as well as the inclusion of other actors who have specialised knowledge – public-private partnerships, NGO’s etc.
Antal sider65
ID: 65539005