According to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Canberra has granted Tuvalu’s request and provided the country, which is among the countries most threatened by climate change, with a guarantee of visas for climate refugees.
In addition, Australia also promised Tuvalu to provide it with about 250 million crowns to expand the area of the main atoll by 6%.
Tuvalu has also received security guarantees from Australia and vowed not to enter into similar agreements with third countries without Australia’s consent, part of Australia’s push to expand its influence in the Pacific to counter China, according to CNN.
About 11,000 people live on a group of islands and atolls in the Pacific. Tuvalu is one of the smallest countries in the world, covering only 26 square kilometers.
Due to the rising ocean level as a result of climate change, however, there is a risk that the entire territory will be under water after the year 2100. In September of this year, according to the BBC, the country changed its constitution to include a statement that statehood would be preserved even in such a case.
The Climate Refugee Agreement is the first of its kind for Australia. The United States or New Zealand have already provided similar guarantees to some Pacific nations in the past.