Climate Action

5 places relocating people because of climate change

Splinters of ice peel off from one of the sides of the Perito Moreno glacier in a process of a unexpected rupture during the southern hemisphere's winter months, near the city of El Calafate in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, southern Argentina, July 7, 2008.  The Perito Moreno glacier, part of the Los Glaciares National Park, a World Heritage site, measures 250 square kilometers (97 square miles), and is one of the few glaciers which is advancing instead of retreating. REUTERS/Andres Forza (ARGENTINA) - RTX7QJ5

Climate change is already forcing some communities to relocate Image: REUTERS/Andres Forz

Charlotte Edmond
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Climate Crisis

Rising sea levels caused by climate change are threatening coastal areas around the world – but for some communities, it’s already too late to save their homes.

Here are five places with a Plan B.


Kiribati, a tiny nation of low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean, is particularly vulnerable to rising seas. Former president Anote Tong has long campaigned for action to prevent the islands being submerged.

In 2014, he bought a plot of land in Fiji so Kiribati’s 100,000 citizens would have a refuge when their homeland became uninhabitable.

An abandoned house that is affected by seawater during high-tides stands next to a small lagoon near the village of Tangintebu on South Tarawa in the central Pacific island nation of Kiribati May 25, 2013. Kiribati consists of a chain of 33 atolls and islands that stand just metres above sea level, spread over a huge expanse of otherwise empty ocean. With surrounding sea levels rising, Kiribati President Anote Tong has predicted his country will likely become uninhabitable in 30-60 years because of inundation and contamination of its freshwater supplies. Picture taken May 25, 2013.  REUTERS/David Gray     (KIRIBATI - Tags: ENVIRONMENT POLITICS SOCIETY)ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 09 OF 42 FOR PACKAGE  'KIRIBATI - GONE IN 60 YEARS'. SEARCH 'KIRIBATI' FOR ALL IMAGES - RTX10LQV
Image: REUTERS/David Gray

Vunidogoloa, Fiji

Communities in Fiji, however, also face an existential threat from rising sea levels. In 2014, residents of the village of Vunidogoloa abandoned their homes and relocated inland. At a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, 30 new houses were built as well as fish ponds and farms.

Vunidogoloa was the first village to move under the Fijian government’s climate change programme with over 30 more earmarked for potential relocation.

An afternoon storm looms above fishermen on the mud flats of a Suva beach September 9, 2001. [Fiji's general election has ended after a week of polling with caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase expected to approach Fiji's president form a majority coalition government after negotiations with minor parties on September 10, 2001.] - RTXKQTG
An afternoon storm looms above fishermen on the mud flats of a Suva beach Image: REUTERS

Taro, Solomon Islands

In 2016 Australian researchers discovered five uninhabited islands in the Solomon Islands had been lost to rising seas and erosion.

The coral atoll of Taro is less than two meters above sea level, and islanders have already been evacuated several times due to tsunamis.

Now plans are underway to move the provincial capital, Choiseul, to higher ground, creating a whole new town known as Choiseul Bay Town.

A girl fishes on her boat at a polluted beach in central Honiara September 14, 2012. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Solomon Islands on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee on September 16. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz (SOLOMON ISLANDS - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR37Z2Q
A girl fishes on her boat at a polluted beach in central Honiara Image: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
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Shishmaref, Alaska, US

A world apart from the warmth of the Pacific archipelagos, the roughly 600 inhabitants of Shishmaref, a village on a small island off the coast of Alaska, are facing a move because of climate change.

The villagers voted in 2016 to relocate because their coastline was melting and falling into the sea. Located close to the Arctic circle, the residents of Shishmaref are mostly indigenous Inupiats.

U.S. President Barack Obama views Bear Glacier on a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, Alaska September 1, 2015. During a three-day visit Obama is also slated to meet people in remote Arctic communities whose way of life is affected by rising ocean levels, creating images designed to build support for regulations to curb carbon emissions. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX1QODE
Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, US

The 29 remaining homes on Isle de Jean Charles in southeastern Louisiana are sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.

The island, which is home to members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and the United Houma Nation tribes, has already lost 98% of its land since 1955.

At the start of 2016 the US government awarded Louisiana a grant of $92.6m, of which $48m was to relocate the people of Isle de Jean Charles to higher ground.

The residents are in the process of deciding where to move to, with three sites billed as potential front runners.

The large seawall that protects Galveston from major storms and the rising waters of the Gulf of Mexico is seen on Galveston Island, Texas March 6, 2014. To match Special Report SEALEVEL-FIXES/GALVESTON  Picture taken March 6, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR4FCYO
Image: REUTERS/Rick Wilking
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April 22, 2024

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