Federal Politicians urged to support Climate Refugee Bill

National environment group Friends of the Earth Australia calls on all federal politicians to support the private members bill to establish a Climate Refugee Visa, which will be debated in the Senate on Thursday August 9.

Friends of the Earth Australia

Climate Justice Campaign

MEDIA RELEASE: 8 th August 2007

Federal Politicians urged to support Climate Refugee Bill

National environment group Friends of the Earth Australia calls on all federal politicians to support the private members bill to establish a Climate Refugee Visa, which will be debated in the Senate tomorrow. The bill, introduced by Senator Kerry Nettle, proposes that Australia accept 300 climate refugees from Tuvalu, 300 from Kiribati and 300 from other Pacific Island nations. These nations are some of the most vulnerable in the world to rising sea levels due to climate change.

“The significance of this bill for our Pacific neighbours cannot be underestimated. Already the Carteret islands of Papua New Guinea are being evacuated. Tuvalu and Kiribati are starting to disappear” said Friends of the Earth Climate Justice spokesperson Emma Brindal.

“Australia, as the highest per capita producer of greenhouse emissions and the richest country in the region, has a special responsibility to our neighbours in the Pacific. This should include the migration of displaced people to Australia” said Ms Brindal.

“The creation of a climate refugee visa would demonstrate leadership on this pressing human rights issue on our doorstep” said Ms Brindal.

To date the Howard government has ignored the requests of Pacific Island nations for assistance. In October 2006, at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji, the Howard government refused to meet the government of Tuvalu to discuss the climate change crisis. Tuvalu is one of the world’s most vulnerable nations to sea level rise as its highest point is less than 5metres above sea level.

Sir Nicolas Stern's report on climate change concluded that there could be between 150 and 200 million climate refugees by 2050. Many of the people displaced by rising seas, famine and disease will be in the Pacific and Asia.

“It is also essential that Australia take action now to reduce the causes of the displacement of climate refugees by committing to making deep cuts in our greenhouse emissions. We must also provide financial support for adaptation to allow communities to cope with climate change impacts and provide financial support for people who will have to relocate within their own countries” said Ms Brindal.

For further comment:

Emma Brindal (07) 3846 5793 / 0411 084 727

Cam Walker (03) 9419 8700 / 0419 338 047

 

Notes to editor:

1. For a copy of the bill and background material see Kerry Nettles's website: www.kerrynettle.org.au

2. At the ALP national conference in April 2007, a policy was passed to create an international coalition of Pacific Rim nations willing to accept climate refugees from nations that become uninhabitable.

3. For more information on climate refugees, see Friends of the Earth’s A Citizen’s Guide to Climate Refugees . http://www.archive.foe.org.au/