Beyond burdens and climate refugees: a stocktake of international responsibility-sharing and South Pacific climate-induced migration
This paper provides a ‘stocktake’ of common responsibility-sharing principles and goals in international agreements on climate change and refugees/migration to date and investigates how these principles might inform an Oceania agreement to deal with the emerging issue of South Pacific climate-induced migration. Where international agreements on climate change and refugees/migration overlap I identify a set of responsibility-sharing principles and goals and investigate their compatibility with the needs and demands of Pacific communities facing the prospect of climate-induced displacement. In this paper, I tap into ongoing political and academic debates concerning if and how we ought to differentiate states’ environmental responsibilities. I ask whose responsibility is it to address climate-induced migration? And what exactly are they responsible for? I find that international agreements on climate change and refugees/migration sufficiently overlap with the needs of Pacific communities to provide us with five common responsibility-sharing principles and goals that are potentially useful in the South Pacific climate migration context: the ability to pay principle, polluter pays principle, prevention, emissions reduction and (funding) adaptation. Notwithstanding responsibility-sharing’s negotiation difficulties, these responsibility-sharing principles have significant congruence with Pacific communities’ needs and demands, and thus provide us with a valuable starting point for an Oceania agreement on climate-induced migration that is informed first and foremost by the needs of those who may have to leave their homes.