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US Puts Focus on Modern Problem: 'Climate Refugees'

New report is first comprehensive look at problem, possible remedies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 21, 2021 2:09 PM CDT
US Puts Focus on New Problem: 'Climate Refugees'
In this file photo, a jogger runs along McCovey Cove outside Oracle Park in San Francisco, under darkened skies from wildfire smoke.   (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(Newser) – Worsening climate change requires that the US do much more to track, ease, and manage flows of refugees fleeing natural disasters, the Biden administration said Thursday in what it billed as the federal government's first deep look at the problem. The report recommends a range of steps: doing more to monitor for floods or other disasters likely to create climate refugees, tailoring US aid to help people to ride out droughts or storms in their own countries, and examining legal protections for refugees driven from their countries partly because of worsening climate, per the AP.

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The report also urges creation of a task force to coordinate management of climate change and migration, from climate scientists to aid and security officials. Each year, hurricanes, the failure of seasonal rains, and other sudden natural disasters force an average of 21.5 million people from their homes around the world, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says. Worsening climate from the burning of coal and gas already is intensifying a range of disasters, from wildfires overrunning towns in California, rising seas overtaking island nations, and drought-aggravated conflict in parts of the world.

“Policy and programming efforts made today and in coming years will impact estimates of people moving due to climate-related factors,” the report said. It was ordered by President Biden and compiled recommendations of federal agencies across government. “Tens of millions of people, however, are likely to be displaced over the next two to three decades due in large measure to climate change impacts.” The Biden administration is eager to show itself confronting the impacts of climate change ahead of a UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, that starts late this month.

(Read more climate change stories.)

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