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François Gemenne

There are plenty of reasons, and not just legal reasons, to avoid using the term ‘climate refugee’. I am well aware of them. Without denying that these reasons exist, this chapter argues that there are also at least two good reasons to use the term ‘refugee’ – not in the legal sense, of course, but in the sense to which people relate when using that term, as a reflection of the plight of the individuals in question. And this is not just a matter of semantics. We should talk of climate refugees, this chapter submits, because climate change is a form of political persecution, and because the term ‘migrant’ has sadly become a life-threatening label, in a world marred by populism and xenophobia.