Saturday, January 25, 2014

Will fleeing home be the last resort as the climate changes?

Jaspreet Kindra in IRIN: ...Like many other Micronesian states, Palau is extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges - several islands are less than a metre above sea level. In other low-lying countries like Bangladesh, people have become used to the idea of moving, but "planned relocation" evokes strong feelings in this part of the Pacific.

Palau gained independence from the United States in 1994 and signed the Compact of Free Association, which will run until 2044. Under this agreement, the US provides substantial financial assistance to Palau, whose nationals can also travel to the US with relative ease and work there. Almost everyone has a family member in the US, but no one talks about moving there permanently.

...People in neighbouring islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu are being forced to move away from the constantly encroaching sea. Planning for possible dual citizenship, shopping for land, and providing new skills so their people can get jobs in another country are among the policy decisions that confront low-lying countries and islands.

"Some countries expressed reservations about the idea of having planned relocation ... since [they]...have hardly contributed to dangerous climate change, but would be asked to concede significant things like administration of viable populations and habitable territory - both key parts of sovereignty" But many Pacific islanders feel like Josephs. Tony de Brum, the
Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, told IRIN that the idea of planned relocation is not even being considered. “If we do that, it will be an admittance of failure in our part,” on two counts - adaptation and global mitigation efforts...

Aerial view of limestone islands of Palau, shot by NOAA

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