31 Oct 2017

NZ considers developing climate change refugee visa

2:07 pm on 31 October 2017

The government will consider creating a new visa category for people displaced by climate change, the New Zealand Climate Change Minister James Shaw says.

A high tide across Ejit Island in Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands on March 3, 2014, causing widespread flooding. Officials in the Marshall Islands blamed climate change for severe flooding in the Pacific nation's capital Majuro.

Flooding caused by huge spring tides which Marshall Islands officials have blamed on climate change. Photo: AFP

Refugee conventions don't recognise climate change victims but efforts are being made through the Nansen Initiative to create a new status for people displaced by disasters.

Last week, the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal rejected applications by Tuvalu families wanting to stay because of climate change.

But Mr Shaw said he was looking at a possible new visa category.

"There might be a new, an experimental humanitarian visa category for people from the Pacific who are displaced by rising seas stemming from climate change, and it is a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific Islands."

Mr Shaw said the first target should still be to avert catastrophic climate change in Pacific Island countries.

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