Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests creating “climate migrants” immigration class
“This is not a matter of charity or generosity but one of justice and reparation,” think-tank says in proposing new immigration class for refugees affected by climate change.
The federal government should create a new “climate migrants” immigration class to better prepare for the inflow of people fleeing extreme climate change, says a new Canadian report.
The unique study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives urges Ottawa to formulate policies that would suspend deportations of arrived migrants whose homeland is affected by climate change, grant resident status to climate migrants on humanitarian grounds, and permit them to enter Canada under refugee resettlement programs.
“In the coming years, climate change will compel hundreds of millions of people to relocate and . . . many forced migrants will remain in nearby poor regions in the Global South,” says the study, to be released Wednesday.
“Greater support and certainty would be provided if Canada created a new immigration class of ‘climate migrants’ along with targets and programs to ensure Canada absorbs its fair share of those migrants. A potentially larger challenge is rallying public opinion and support for those climate migrants.”
According to the report, Canada’s share of the world population was less than 0.5 per cent, but its share of global greenhouse gas emissions is four times that, at 2.1 per cent. A 2008 World Resources Institute climate report ranked Canada the fourth-highest per-capita emitter.
While there’s no single definition for climate migrants, the study said there’s no shortage of examples of people driven away by climate-related disasters, including the victims of the 2013 typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines and the monsoon floods in India and Pakistan this year that affected millions.
“Canada owes a ‘climate debt’ to the nations bearing the greatest impacts, including countries that will assist and settle climate migrants,” said the study by Stephanie Dickson, Sophie Webber and Tim Takaro, who are scholars in, respectively, public health, geography and medicine.
The report estimated that global damage from climate change and fossil fuel development such as pipeline spills costs $1.2 trillion a year, or 1.6 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product in 2010 — and is projected to double to 3.2 per cent in 2030.
North America is not immune, it said, as evidenced in calamities such as Hurricane Sandy in the United States and flooding in Calgary and Toronto in 2013, as well as extreme cold from last winter’s “polar vortex.”