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A proposal in New Zealand could trigger the era of ‘climate change refugees’

New Zealand could become the world’s first country to essentially recognize climate change as an official reason to seek asylum or residence elsewhere, a government minister indicated in an interview Tuesday. If implemented, up to 100 individuals per year could be admitted to the island nation on a newly created visa category, according to an initial campaign promise the proposal which is now being considered is based on.

This may appear relatively insignificant, given that the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center predicts 150 to 300 million people to be forced out of their homes because of climate change by 2050. Yet the announcement has still stunned environmental activists who have long demanded such resettlement programs but have been blocked by governments and courts — including New Zealand’s Supreme Court.

photo credit: rustyruth1959

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