MP says NZ needs to re-think climate change attitude
A New Zealand MP says major changes are required if New Zealand is to cope with the climate change crisis, both at home and in the Pacific.
A New Zealand MP says there has to be a lot more planning in this country to counter the effects of global warming on the Pacific.
The opposition Labour Party's Pacific climate change spokesperson Su'a William Sio was part of a delegation that travelled to Tuvalu and Kiribati last week on a study tour.
He told Don Wiseman it is an issue that others, including his colleagues in parliament, learned more about.
SU'A WILLIAM SIO: For these countries it is a present crisis. It is not an emerging crisis. For us in New Zealand it will become a crisis in the years to come. And I think it will start with the erosion of our coastlines, so I think what we are seeing in the Pacific is the future of what may occur here in New Zealand. So it is not just a Pacific crisis, it is an international crisis, it is a human crisis. And so for us here in New Zealand we do need to take notice of it. And having travelled to Tuvalu for the first time, this time around, I thought it would be really important for MPs in New Zealand to actually take the time and visit some of these islands because I think they would come away with a renewed vision in terms of how serious climate change is and how important it is for New Zealand to do, not only our part in reducing carbon emissions, but also our part in standing in solidarity with the Pacific in fighting climate change.
DON WISEMAN: Specifically what do you want New Zealand to do in terms of the Pacific?
SWS: New Zealand needs to take care of its own business by walking the talk, by having a plan for reducing our own carbon emissions and transitioning from fossil fuel to renewable energy. That is the first thing. Secondly I think we do need to take seriously that, unless the world reduces its carbon emissions and keeps its commitment from Paris, these islands will inevitably face disastrous effects from climate change. Some of the outer islands are already flooded and are no longer habitable. So we have to plan for a disaster that we don't want to occur and that is - somebody asked me 'What would New Zealand do if Cyclone Winston hit Tuvalu right on' well, we would be faced with a situation where we may have to take on the 10,000 or 11,000 people that live on Tuvalu. And we are ill prepared for that and I think we have got to have a migration plan. Consider a migration plan along the lines of using our Pacific Access Quota as a basis, reviewing that, looking at increasing the numbers, looking at the criteria, looking to see if we can also inject a criteria that recognises people that will be displaced as a result of climate change. And do that over time rather than waiting for the point of no return. I think there is a real need for us to consider seriously how we grow the education and skills development of locals in partnership with our own educational institutions and the need for us to provide some accreditation and recognition of local qualifications in Kiribati and in Tuvalu. I think we ought to looking seriously about how we can enable mobility of labour from these countries, through our Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme and seeing whether we can extend that scheme to not only incorporate the horticulture and viticulture but also the education sector, the building sector, the hospitality sector and the health sector, because they do have people qualified in these areas but don't have the job opportunities in the islands. And so these are some of the things that we need to consider. And the other serious issue that I came away with was the issue of overstayers. I think we in New Zealand have to seriously consider what we do with overstayers in New Zealand from these climate change affected islands. Is it humanitarian to return them to islands that can no longer support or sustain them. I think the other thing is I would like to see New Zealand promote the establishment of a United Nations framework to protect communities who are displaced due to climate change, and to recognise that at some stage we will have climate change refugees.
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