EVENT – 6pm Tuesday 15 Oct 2013: This year the commander of US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, called climate change the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific. The security challenges posed by climate change are multiple. Some are traditional -like the prospect of wars over water- and some non-traditional –like the displacement of persons.
The impact of climate change on global migration flows is important for Australia. Rising sea levels, extreme weather, melting glaciers and severe droughts are exacerbating social and demographic pressures in our region; in Bangladesh alone it is estimated that 6 million people are internally displaced because of climate change. The consequences of these new population pressures are potentially drastic: before the Syrian uprising 1.5 million people were estimated to be displaced due to the longest drought in Syria’s modern history.
In Australia’s region, rising sea levels mean many people will no longer be able to stay within the borders of their home country. Currently, someone fleeing the effects of climate change does not qualify for protection or resettlement as a refugee under the UN Convention relating to the status of Refugees. In 2012 the UN estimated that over 45 million people were displaced worldwide.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other existing international structures are already overwhelmed, how will they cope with the increasing numbers of people fleeing climate change? Like most flows of displaced persons, those affected by climate change are likely to be managed regionally.
With Australia already struggling with boat people seeking refugee status, what kind of reception can the victims of climate change expect? Our speaker, Dr. Elaine Kelly, will discuss ways in which the international community should think about and respond to what former prime minister Kevin Rudd called “the greatest moral, economic, and social challenge of our time”.
Dr Elaine Kelly is chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is currently writing a book tentatively titled Dwelling in the Future: The Radical Politics of Climate Change. Her work applies continental philosophy to issues relating to climate change. Specifically, she examines various strategies of adaptation to climate change and unpacks their ethical, political and cultural implications.
Entry: AIIA NSW members: $15.00, Senior/Student members $10.00
Visitors: $25.00, student visitors: $15.00