Climate passport, anyone?

(Eco Business, 17 Dec 2018) As climate change leads to the flooding of whole countries a “climate passport” may allow the most distressed to settle in countries that have been largely responsible for the impact.

Nearly half a million people lost their countries during World War 1 and had to use the Nansen Passport till they could get citizenship of one country or another. A higher number may lose their countries as the sea level rises due to climate change. They should get a climate passport, said Dirk Messner, director of the United Nations University Institute for the Environment and Human Security and co-chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change.

Messner and his colleague Robert Oakes at the Bonn-based institute agree that it is still difficult to single out climate change as the cause for migration in many cases, such as the move of many Africans to Europe.

Nevertheless, they point out that environmental impacts related to climate change are affecting countries around the world with approximately 25 million people newly displaced every year. In the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the issue is especially pressing, as both livelihoods and the islands themselves are threatened by sea level rise, floods and changes in rainfall patterns. Already, people are being forced to move. “Innovative solutions, such as climate passports, are needed to enable people to migrate with dignity.”

Even if governments can agree on stricter control of greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the atmosphere, “it will be necessary to adapt to a changing environment,” Oakes said, speaking with Messner on the sidelines of the December 2-14 UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland.

Their idea has been published as part of a policy paper to the German Advisory Council on Global Change.

Recent research by the institute within the UN University shows that from 2005 to 2015, over 90 per cent of households in Kiribati and Tuvalu were affected by floods, storms and irregular rain. Researchers found that 12 per cent of the people moving homes in these island nations are being forced to do so, mainly due to environmental change. 

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Eco Business, 17 Dec 2018: Climate passport, anyone?