New Zealand needed an emergency plan to deal with the worst case scenario of climate change in the Pacific, Minister for Pacific People Aupito William Sio said last night.
Hon. Sio told Kaniva News last night New Zealand had to be prepared to deal with climate driven immigration from the Pacific.
Many Pacific islands, especially those with constitutional ties, may look to New Zealand if their populations had to relocate because climate change made their countries uninhabitable.
New Zealand had to recognise that migration and re-settlement might be necessary and its policies on issues like migration and employment must be sufficiently flexible to deal with the situation.
“How do we act in an emergency we don’t want to happen?” the Minister said.
“Every factory has an evacuation plan it doesn’t ever want to use.
“We need to be thinking about that.
“Would we be ready?
“Would we have the infrastructure in place?
“Is New Zealand mentally and psychologically prepared for what could happen?”
The Minister, who spoke at last week’s international climate change conference in Wellington, said New Zealand needed to envision what could happen. Talking about the possibility could pre-empt it.
He said this was an idea he had shared with his political colleagues.
He said New Zealand would have to work with the Pacific Islands and listen to what they wanted, especially with the leading Pacific economies, Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
There were practical questions to be asked about who would fund migration from the Pacific Islands if they went under.
As a Pacific nation New Zealand had a responsibility to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Island nations and help ensure their views and aspirations were heard in international settings.
“Can we look to the Pacific region with humanitarian eyes and an open heart?” Hon. Sio asked.
“It’s the right thing to do.”
The government could explore a number of opportunities through talking with Pacific nations, education, helping island workers upgrade their qualifications, employment and resilience.
The Minister said New Zealand was committed to ensuring its emissions kept temperature temperature changes to 1.5C and becoming carbon free by 2050.
He said the large Islander population in New Zealand meant it was part of the Pacific and would talk not as a big brother, but as a member of the same family.
The main points
- New Zealand needed an emergency plan to deal with the worst case scenario of climate change in the Pacific, Minister for Pacific People Apito William Sio said last night.
- Speaking to Kaniva News, Hon. Sio said New Zealand had to be prepared to deal with climate driven immigration from the Pacific.
- Many Pacific Islands may look to New Zealand if their populations had to relocate because climate change made their countries uninhabitable.
- New Zealand would have to work with the Pacific Islands and listen to what they wanted.
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