When the Geneva Refugee Convention came into being, migration as a result of climate change was not yet an issue. The Federal Government’s Council of Experts believes that Germany should lead the way in providing aid.
Anyone who loses their homeland as a result of climate change should be given a “climate passport” for permanent residence in Germany, according to an advisory body to the federal government. However, according to the interdisciplinary Advisory Council for Integration and Migration (SVR), this offer should be limited to people from countries “who are losing their entire territory as a result of climate change”. These are primarily island states whose existence is threatened by rising sea levels as a result of global warming, according to the annual report by the independent body published in Berlin on Tuesday.
For people from countries that are significantly affected by the effects of climate change, the Expert Council proposes a so-called climate card. Behind this is a concept for a humanitarian admission program that would enable a temporary stay in Germany. From the point of view of the experts, quotas would have to be set for this. The aim would be for the holders of the Climate Card to return home after the most serious consequences have been eliminated and adaptation measures implemented.
In addition, there should be a “climate work visa” to control migration due to creeping environmental changes caused by climate change. Such a visa would then be given to people from particularly affected countries who, although they do not have any special qualifications, can show that they have an employment contract. In the opinion of the SVR, country-specific quotas would also have to be set for this instrument, which is based on the model of the so-called Western Balkans regulation already practiced in Germany.
Migration due to climate change is considered indisputable
In the opinion of the SVR, reliable forecasts on the extent of migration caused by climate change are hardly possible. However, it is undisputed that environmental changes and extreme weather events triggered by climate change could exacerbate existing problems and thus trigger migration. “If we don’t manage to curb climate change, climate migration will continue to increase on the one hand,” said Birgit Leyendecker, deputy chair of the SVR. “On the other hand, the consequences of climate change can also inhibit migration or even prevent it – for example if people lose the resources they need to be able to migrate at all,” pointed out Leyendecker, who runs the Interdisciplinary Center for Migration at the Ruhr University in Bochum conducts family research. In any case, migration caused by climate change is mainly taking place within the country or people are going to a neighboring country, said SVR chairman Hans Vorländer.
The term “climate refugee” is widespread, “but the logic of international refugee law is difficult to reconcile with migration caused by climate change,” says the report. The measures recommended by the SVR from the spectrum of migration policy should also only be understood as a component of a larger overall strategy, in addition to a “climate foreign policy” that includes migration policy aspects, as well as a development policy that includes adaptation measures, countries in dealing with internal migration and disaster relief . Leyendecker said that countries with high CO2 emissions that consume many natural resources have a special responsibility to reduce their own emissions quickly and to support other countries that are disproportionately affected in terms of climate protection and adaptation to climate change.
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