28 Jul 2009

Climate change to create 75 million refugees - report

11:49 am on 28 July 2009

Climate change could produce 75 million refugees in the Asia-Pacific region in the next 40 years, a report suggests.

The report, by aid agency Oxfam Australia and think-tank the Australia Institute, says the effects of climate change are already being felt in the region.

It says financial assistance needs to be increased and aimed specifically at measures to help communities adapt.

The report says current emission reduction targets do not go far enough to meet international obligations.

Oxfam New Zealand says industrialised nations have become rich by being high greenhouse emitters, and have a moral obligation to help those facing the consequences.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith says the report properly raises the concern that Pacific nations are at risk from climate change.

He says New Zealand is not ignoring the struggle, and the Government has made it plain that it wants to refocus its aid budget on the Pacific.

On Monday, Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand was likely to set a target of 15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The target will be decided on 10 August and tabled at the next round of international climate change negotiations in Germany.

The report's release is timed to highlight issues in the lead-up to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' meeting next week, where climate change is expected to be a hot topic for regional leaders.