I note today’s reports that the Immigration and Protection Tribunal has granted residency to a Tuvaluan family with climate change being included as one of the considerations.
The Green Party welcomes any decision that goes towards recognising that climate change is a real issue for people living in the Pacific Islands. Their livelihoods, and indeed their lives, are being dramatically altered because of effects of the changing climate, especially extreme weather and sea-level rise.
This problem is not going away; in fact it is set to get bigger. The International Migration Organisation states that, in 2008, 20 million people have been dislocated by extreme weather events, compared to the 4.6 million displaced internally by conflict and violence. Every country needs to start acting now to figure out how to deal with climate change – both mitigation and adaptation.
The National Government has done virtually nothing to reduce our carbon emissions. It is essential that we do so or there will be disastrous consequences for everyone around the planet. The Green Party believes that, at the domestic level, we need to specifically look into how New Zealand addresses the issue of people who become forcibly displaced by the climate.
As shown by the Tribunal’s decision, current international instruments, such as the Refugee Convention, are not designed to deal with people displaced by climate issues. There is an urgent need for the international community to look a new mechanisms or extending current mechanisms to deal with the issue.
New Zealand should be leading on this process on the international stage, because the problem is getting worse, on our Pacific neighbourhood.