A possie in Aussie

December 5, 2009

Stop squabbling over Emissions Trading or we will be flooded by climate refugees

Climate change has been centre stage this week in Australian politics, with careers being made and lost over the best ways to counter its effects.

The other ‘hot’ issue, asylum seekers, took a back seat for a few days, but will no doubt be back on page one soon and will focus on how to stop them arriving.

The ‘right to leave’, which was the dominant discourse and driver of UNHCR policy until the early 1990s, has changed to the ‘right to remain’ in one’s home country. This change has led to the increasing protection of borders, rather than of people who are fleeing  persecution, and lip service to the idea of ‘preventive protection’, that is supporting changes in the source nation to ‘dry up’ the flow of refugees.

At the Barcelona Climate Change Talks 2009 last month, displacement related to climate change was addressed. Parties were urged to begin to address  “internal and cross-border migration and displacement” and identify ways to “respond to the needs of affected populations” who are displaced by the effects of climate change.

Refugees International sums up the situation facing us:

There are currently 41.2 million people displaced by conflict. Estimates indicate that 50 million to 1 billion people will be displaced by climate change over the next 50 years. The most immediate threats from climate change are in the form of storms of increasing intensity, such as Cyclone Nargis in Burma; greater incidence of drought and floods that make traditional livelihoods unsustainable; and increased conflicts over access to limited resources. The war in Darfur derives, in part, from conflict over scarce resources as the desert expands. Other dramatic impacts are also predicted in the long term, such as the disappearance of island states like the Maldives. Forced Displacement Must Be Included in Copenhagen Climate Agreement

Looks like another reason to stop squabbling about climate tactics.

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