northeastern university seal
EXPLORE NORTHEASTERN
News

Senator Ed Markey proposes bill to address displacement from climate change

At the end of September, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey introduced a new bill to the Senate that would establish a Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy. The bill, which cites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Human Rights Council analysis of climate threats, would authorize those displaced by climate related events access resettlement opportunities in the United States, as well as establish a government wide framework for climate change policy and addressing environmental justice. According to the International Organization for Migration, climate change could displace as many as 200 million people by 2050. If passed, the proposed actions could build global resilience through coordinated efforts that strengthen vulnerable communities within the U.S. and abroad, and serve to mitigate the events causing such displacement. 

Coastal erosion in Bangladesh (source Climate Vulnerable Forum / Flickr)
Coastal erosion in Bangladesh (source Climate Vulnerable Forum / Flickr)

The bill calls for a government-wide approach to addressing climate change, and calls on numerous agencies and positions to carry out its actions. The Secretary of State and United States Agency for International Development Administrator would be the primary individuals developing the strategy. The plan would span 10 years and work to mitigate climate change impacts. The bill also calls upon the State Department to create a Coordinator of Climate Resilience Position, responsible for overseeing all federal efforts that address climate change. Finally, the bill directs the President to take two specific actions. The President should provide assistance to programs that promote resilience and reduce the vulnerability of communities impacted by climate change, essentially accounting for environmental justice through programs and initiatives. The President should also collect and maintain data on climate displacement, with the help of other agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Defense. By calling on a collection of government bodies to address climate change, the bill accounts for numerous vulnerabilities that will be exposed in coming years. 

Through the actions of all of these agencies, the Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy would address both short-term and long-term effects of events caused by climate change. The strategy is expected to describe successful strategies to prevent conditions that disproportionately affect communities that are likely to be displaced by climate change. It will take a multisectoral approach, calling for collaboration with local partners, civil society, and affected communities. Going forward, the bill calls for annual reports on the progress made towards addressing climate change in federal policy and updates on the strategy. By building resilience in already vulnerable communities, this government approach can more effectively address and resolve the disruptive events climate change will bring.  

Sources and Further Reading

A bill to establish a Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy – Congress.gov

Senator Markey Introduces First of Its Kind Legislation to Address Climate “Refugee” Crisis – Ed Markey United States Senate