WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A New Zealand judge has rejected a Kiribati man's claim that he should be granted refugee status because of climate change.
Ioane Teitiota and his wife moved to New Zealand from the low-lying Pacific island nation in 2007. He argued that rising sea levels make it too dangerous for him and his family to return to Kiribati.
Immigration authorities twice rejected his claims, so he appealed to the High Court.
In a decision Tuesday, Judge John Priestley said Teitiota did not fit the definition of a refugee under international guidelines because he was not being directly persecuted.
The judge said if he broadened the definition, millions more people worldwide suffering from natural disasters or warfare would be eligible to become refugees.