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Should Australia accept Climate Refugees?

By Varun Perera 11O


With each high tide, the water gradually closes in on her home. Rising sea
levels had already accounted for her first home, and in 30-50 years, they will
claim her entire country. Her father Salusai has their new home built on 10
foot stilts, but even he knows he's just delaying the inevitable. Salusai worries
for Tuvulus culture and identity but more importantly for the wellbeing of his
daughter. At two-years of age, she faces the daunting prospect of losing her
homeland to climate change. Her name is Tafou Amosa.
She will become a climate refugee. A person that will be displaced by global
warming in the not too distant future. Good afternoon Ms. Mitchell and fellow
classmates. Tafous plight raises the question. Should Australia be prepared to
accept climate refugees from the South Pacific when their nations are
submerged? Our contributions to global warming mean it is our moral
obligation to take them in. Secondly, environmental migrants can prove
resourceful agriculturally. And lastly, I will assure you why developing a
national policy for environmental refugees should be top priority for our
minister of immigration.
As a major culprit in carbon pollution, it is imperative that the Labour
government begins working on a policy addressing climate refugees. We are
the largest carbon emitter per capita in the world, with Australians recording a
whopping 17.3 tonnes of carbon emissions per person in 2011. Our
staggering carbon footprint has meant that islands such as the Maldives and
Kiribati may experience a rise of 59 cm in sea level by the end of the century.
Already in the Pacific region, rising sea levels have damaged crops,
destroyed homes and have contaminated drinking water. If its this bad now,
imagine how itll be in 30 years time.
Whats more disconcerting is that we have reached a stage where this
problem cannot be neglected nor amended. Scientists predict that even by
sufficiently stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will continue to
rise due to past carbon pollution. Its true what they say, you can't undo the
past. But what we can do is take responsibility for our shameful history of
carbon pollution by preparing for the influx of environmental migrants. WE
ARE TO BLAME.
AgForce Queensland estimated national labor shortages of at least 106,000
workers are costing Australian farmers in excess of $150 million a year.
Compare this to the Solomon Islands, in which the agricultural sector alone
contributes to 50% of Gross Domestic Product. The introduction of climate
refugees will improve the fortunes of our farmers. Many Pacific islands are
coastal thus requiring residents to be self-sufficient in cultivating their land.
Farming is not just an occupation for these people. It is a way of life. Without
the necessary skills to farm, many people in these developing nations
wouldnt be able to support their families nor themselves. Just ask the 75
percent of Tuvuluans who in some form or another are involved in agricultural
production. By accepting climate refugees we can kill two birds with one
stone. We can rid ourselves of our agricultural deficiencies and at the same
time, relocate people whom we have effectively displaced.

Should Australia accept Climate Refugees?


By Varun Perera 11O
According to the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, a refugee is a person
who escapes their country in fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion,
nationality or membership. The convention fails to mention those displaced
by environmental disasters yet immigrants seeking asylum fit the description
of a refugee to the tee. So if we are to abide by a convention that was
established over 60 years ago, Australia must consider asylum seekers before
climate refugees. I dont know about you, but it seems incredibly unjust to
prioritise let alone compare asylum seekers to climate refugees.
First of all, asylum seekers come here on their own volition, climate refugees
do not. Think about it. Environmental migrants have more to lose than to gain
by coming here. Theyll lose their homes, their occupations and more
tragically, the cultural identity of their home country. They do not come here
for a better life. They come here because they have nowhere else to go. Dont
get me wrong, its our moral duty to accept asylum seekers as well. However
they are fleeing a problem we have no involvement in. Contrastingly, no one is
more accountable for the crisis in Oceania than we are. The Pacific Solution
can wait. As notorious carbon polluters, it is of upmost importance we come
up with a strategy for climate resettlement before any other migration policy.
WE ARE TO BLAME.
Shadow minister Anthony Albanese describes it as an issue of social
injustice, that those who will lose their homes to climate change are amongst
the most negligible emitters of greenhouse gases. As the largest carbon
emitter per capita in the world, we have greatly contributed to this social
injustice. It would only make sense, given our faltering farming industry, to
resettle unfortunate victims, many of whom are agriculturally capable. And
finally, lets not forget that these people arent just ordinary refugees but
innocent brothers and sisters forced to flee from a problem industrialised
nations such as ourselves have created. Ladies and gentlemen, the great
Winston Churchill once said failing to plan is planning to fail. If we fail to plan
ahead in response to this climactic crisis, children such as Tafou may never
have a place to call home. And WE WILL BE TO BLAME.