NZ Faces Climate Change Disasters Influx
Climate change is real, and its impact on small Pacific states will be severe. So severe that New Zealand and Australia need to prepare now for an influx of Pacific Island peoples fleeing from climate change disaster. That, in essence, is the blunt message from the Reverend François Pihaatae, Head of the Pacific Council of Churches (PCC) to the New Zealand and Australian Governments. Reverend Pihaatae told Islands Business that rising sea levels, increased water salinity, and more extreme weather made it inevitable that many Pacific coastal communities will have to migrate. ‘We appeal to the nearest big countries of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to get ready to receive our people. Once the islands have been subdued by waves and the ocean, they should be ready to receive our people,’ he said to Islands Business. The PCC has puts climate change and relocation high on its agenda for the next five years. Both will have a major impact on Pacific societies. Another key area of the PCC work on climate change is to study alternative economic models for development based on traditional systems. This will include models, which are carbon light, sustainable, and non-destructive to the environment, the Reverend Pihaatae told Islands Business. ‘The churches will document these case studies and promote the findings widely through their network, as real and practical examples of how some communities are already living sustainably through the careful utilisation of resources held by them in trust,’ he said.