Towards a European climate visa

The report "The Impact of Climate Change on Vulnerable Populations in Developing Countries" addresses possible legal solutions to migration caused by climate change
Hacia un visado climático europeo

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Climate change is affecting certain regions more than others due to their geographical position. In the global south, the environmental crisis is coupled with vulnerable populations, creating an unsafe environment that leads to hunger and life-threatening risks. 

This is why the European Parliament (EP) is proposing an initiative entitled "The impact of climate change on vulnerable people in developing countries", which has now been approved in the European Parliament's Committee on Development and is now on its way to being adopted in the plenary session of the European Parliament on Monday 17 May.

Monica Gonzalez, the rapporteur of this report, is the Spanish MEP of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, who asked the European Parliament to take a position on the impact of global warming on the most vulnerable populations in developing countries.

Hacia un visado climático europeo

This report proposes funding for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage associated with climate change (Warsaw Mechanism), as well as increased financial support for disaster risk reduction. It also seeks to address specific geographic and personal vulnerabilities with a gender perspective. It also addresses the importance of a financial reserve to support through the New Single Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) the countries most affected by climate change. And most remarkable of all the proposal, a climate visa as a temporary protection measure for disaster victims and to include the risk to life, threatened by climate change.

Based on this approach, Fundación Alternativas organised a debate to address these issues with a special emphasis on the increasing number of displaced people due to global warming, and the measures that the European Union should take. The event was moderated by Jesús Marcos Gamero Rus, member of the Sociology of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Research Group at the Carlos III University of Madrid, and researcher at the Fundación Alternativas. Also participating in the debate were Beatriz Felipe Pérez, associate researcher at the Centre for Environmental Law Studies of Tarragona (CEDAT); and Paloma Favieres, Director of Policies and Campaigns at CEAR.

Hacia un visado climático europeo

When talking about the EU, it is important to talk about the responsibility it has towards the countries most vulnerable to climate change. The climate visa would be a tool to address such migration as the report addresses "migration policy" and the capacity to enhance the external dimension of the Green Deal by supporting member states in their efforts to adapt to global warming. It also points out that the needs of the most vulnerable populations must be taken into account, which implies a "change in approach" in the management of development cooperation and humanitarian aid. 

The purpose of the report is to create an opinion and a position of the European Parliament on the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable populations in developing countries. A binding agreement that addresses migration as an adaptation to the needs created by climate change as far in advance as possible is proposed as a "flagship measure".

Hacia un visado climático europeo

During the debate, it was stated that the first problem begins with the lack of terminology, as well as the obstacle that the 1951 Geneva Convention poses by limiting the lack of changes to it. There are very hopeful developments, but in terms of legislation, many opportunities have been missed. The problem also lies in the fact that there is no access to legal channels, which is why the climate visa is so important, marking the beginning of everything.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the issue of climate migration is not something that will happen in the future, it is something that is already happening. Most of these movements are internal, but there are also cases of international movements, of people fleeing their own countries because of climate problems. This is why the European Union must make a commitment to the most vulnerable countries, approaching the problem from a moral responsibility that is transferred to the legal sphere. The report discusses those instruments that allow for the legal protection of people who will be forced to migrate because of climate change. 

Hacia un visado climático europeo

There are already examples of similar cases of climate visas or agreements of states (which have polluted more and others less) that can help in the development of this humanitarian climate visa. Other regions of the world have already taken a stand and raised this issue to the public agenda, such as the African Union or Latin America. This is why it is important for the EP to take a stand on the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable populations in developing countries. The new EU Migration and Asylum Pact makes only a passing reference to forced displacement for environmental reasons and does not even mention legal and safe channels.

The debate closed with the hope that this report will be adopted and that the proposed measures will be implemented to try to correct all the problems outlined.