The focus of this paper is the study of the Welsh seaside village of Fairbourne, located on the Mawddach Estuary, Gwynedd. Due to rising sea levels and as a direct result of a warming climate, there are palpable and stark warnings that Fairbourne will be decommissioned by the year 2045, with very real consequences for its some 800 residents. This has triggered the media to deem its population as the UK’s first ‘climate refugees,’ (Barnes & Dove, 2015) highlighting the community’s vulnerability and uncertain future in the face of a deepening climate crisis. Written from a Green Criminological perspective, this paper presents a conceptual exploration of whether the residents of Fairbourne are subject to climate change as a form of environmental harm, and whether they can be considered environmental victims. Although they cannot be treated as victims of environmental crime as defined by criminal law, their enduring adversity as a result of a warming climate and rising sea levels cannot be neglected. Accordingly, secondary sources of information will be analysed to explore particular types of harms, including economic, social and individual, determining how the experiences of coastal communities can help shape wider social, economic and political processes relating to climate change and environmental harm more generally.
- Green Criminology, Climate Crisis, Coastal Communities, Environmental Victims, Environmental Harm