Climate and Pacific mobility

27 June 2022

Diplomats for Climate Action Now member Peter Hooton (former High Commissioner to Solomon Islands) published an article in the Lowy Interpreter titled: "Pacific labour mobility and the existential threat of climate change". In this article Peter writes that "the new Australian Labor government’s commitment to listen more closely to its island neighbours is welcome, as are its Pacific labour mobility initiatives". He argues that in addition to the Pacific Engagement Visa (capped at 3,000 visas annually) Australia should consider offering a new climate change quota beyond this cap for particularly vulnerable Pacific island states. This would signal a serious commitment to jointly addressing the challenges of climate change, especially for those states whose existence is threatened by rising sea levels. This idea builds on our Climate-Focused Foreign Policy for Australia, where we argued that the new Australian government should "commit to offering vulnerable Pacific Island nations a safe-refuge resettlement program for affected populations if their homelands become no longer habitable due to sea-level rise or other effects of climate change." This will be a difficult debate for Australia, but a debate that we need to have.