New Zealand has agreed to welcome an annual quota of immigrants from the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu, where rising sea levels are forcing residents from their homes. Tuvalu, a nine-island archipelago halfway between Hawaii and Australia, blames global warming for the higher ocean levels, as well as for coastal erosion, droughts, and unusually severe weather. The nation’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment had strong criticism for Australia, which declined to accept Tuvalu refugees, as well as for the U.S., for its refusal to back the Kyoto treaty on climate change. Meanwhile, in the absence of federal leadership on climate change in the U.S., state, city, and regional governments are taking up some of the slack, calling for measures like broader use of energy-saving devices, more efficient building standards, cleaner power plants, and greater investment in renewable resources.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.