australia: greens climate refugee bill welcomed
Pacific Island nations are some of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Rising seas are already causing the flight of some Pacific Islanders, including the inhabitants of Tegua Island in Vanuatu, and the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea.
FoE Australia’s long campaign to gain justice for these peoples saw a major success in June 2007, when Greens Senator Kerry Nettle introduced a bill in Federal Parliament to formally recognize and create mechanisms to deal with climate refugees from Pacific Island nations.
The bill proposes an amendment to the Migration Act, to insert a new visa class called a “climate refugee visa” for people displaced due to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels.
“The establishment of a climate refugee visa in would go some way towards facing up to our responsibilities to act on this issue,” said Friends of the Earth’s climate justice spokesperson, Emma Brindal.
The former Howard Government long ignored the requests of Pacific Island
nations for assistance. While the Greens Bill was not supported by
either of the main Parties, it provided valuable focus to the issue of
displacement. The change in government following a November 2007
election has opened a window of opportunity for a more humanitarian
Photo credit: Pip Starr