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Rep. Velazquez, Senator Markey Reintroduce Legislation to Aid People Displaced by Climate Change and Support Global Resilience

April 22, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – As climate-related disasters have displaced an average of 20 million people every year over the past decade, Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) today reintroduced legislation that would establish a national strategy to address global climate-driven displacement and provide the support needed to implement durable solutions for climate-displaced persons. As climate change continues to accelerate, the number of displaced persons due to climate change is only expected to rise.

“When it comes to combating climate change, we must all be in this together, as Americans and as global citizens living on this planet,” said Representative Velázquez. "As the U.S. under President Biden works to reinsert itself as an international leader in the fight to mitigate climate change, we must not only find solutions around climate equity and climate justice, but recognize the need for security assistance and resettlement opportunities for climate-displaced persons. That is why on this Earth Day, I’m proud to partner with Senator Markey to introduce comprehensive legislation to protect the human rights of climate-displaced persons and establish a national strategy to address climate displacement.”
 
“As the ongoing climate crisis worsens and climate-related disasters become more and more frequent, people are consequently becoming more vulnerable to conflict, violence, and persecution,” said Senator Markey. “We are unfortunately a world leader in contributing to this climate crisis, and we have a moral obligation to be a world leader in addressing the ensuing humanitarian crisis. The climate crisis disproportionately affects women, children, Indigenous people, and people of color, and we must take the necessary steps to support those who are forced to leave their homes due to a changing climate. I look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to pass this legislation into law to create a global strategy for resilience and a plan to deal with migration driven by climate change.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
 
Climate-displaced persons often lack any formal protection under U.S. or international law. Although the effects of climate change often aggravate societal tensions that lead to persecution, many climate-displaced persons do not meet the US definition of refugee, and therefore, they cannot access resettlement opportunities in the United States.
 
This legislation to address climate displacement would specifically:

  • create a U.S. resettlement pathway for climate-displaced persons,
  • establish a global climate change resiliency strategy to guide U.S. government policy and programming,
  • create a government-wide Coordinator for Climate Resilience position, and
  • provide training for Foreign Service officers in climate change resilience.

The legislation is endorsed by International Refugee Assistance Project, Partnership for New Americans, OXFAM, Norwegian Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee, Refugees International, CARE, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, World Church Service, Islamic Relief USA, Friends Committee on National Legislation, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Jesuit Refugee Services, Human Rights First, The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), Endangered Species Coalition, Women's Voices for the Earth, Foreign Policy For America, Animals Are Sentient Beings, Inc., and Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments.
 
“Climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people right now,” said Abby Maxman, President, Oxfam America. “By creating a new pathway for climate-displaced people to find safe haven in the US, Senator Markey’s legislation contributes to the vital effort to humanely welcome people forced to flee their homes. We must confront all aspects of the climate crisis and this bill would provide an important new tool to help address one of its main impacts.”
 
"The dire combination of conflict, insecurity and climate change represents the modern face of humanitarian crisis. The climate crisis and rapid ecosystem change are already impacting communities the IRC serves in countries across the Sahel, the Northern Triangle, South Asia and the Middle East.  Our teams around the world have seen how the crisis is a threat multiplier when it comes to conflict, hunger and the forced movement of people. The need for bold and urgent action could not be clearer - this legislation comes at a crucial time," said David Miliband, President and CEO of International Rescue Committee.
 
"As climate change continues to increase the amount of extreme weather events that upend communities across the world, the United States must grapple with the challenges of climate-related migration – both the risks to global stability and the humanitarian consequences for vulnerable populations,” said Andrew Albertson, Executive Director of Foreign Policy for America. “FP4A commends Senator Markey for introducing this important legislation to force the U.S. government to plan for the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations, and to maintain U.S. leadership in addressing global humanitarian challenges."
 
“As an international humanitarian organization with a history of emergency response interventions, IRUSA fully supports Senator’s Markey’s legislation that addresses the pressing issue of climate change and its devastating impact on already vulnerable populations,” said Sharif Aly, CEO of Islamic Relief USA. “Given the rise of weather-related disasters that have caused widespread forced migration and displacement, this bill represents the precise leadership and action we must take to ensure that those affected are provided with critical relief and sustainable livelihood solutions.”
 
“The United States is historically the world’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate disruption.  Today, it remains the highest emitter per capita. While ecological and economic cost of climate change is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars, the human cost in terms of lost lives, property, lands, assets is incalculable. America must now craft policy solutions and laws that are commensurate with its responsibility and capacity, as well as the scale of the problem. More than 70% of the American public expect it and climate justice demands it. As an organization rooted in faith, Church World Service welcomes efforts to ensure the safety, dignity and human rights of people displaced by climate change.  Congressional action to establish a global climate change strategy and to authorize the admission of climate-displaced persons would be significant step toward re-establishing U.S. global leadership in responding to the accelerating climate crisis - and climate-induced displacement.  This bill reflects our long-held values as a welcoming nation, as well as our responsibility to directly affected communities worldwide in building resilience and accessing much-needed resources for climate adaptation,” said Rick Santos, President and CEO of Church World Service.
 
"Climate change is real and having a dramatic global impact, including on communities already struggling to sustain themselves," said Joel Charny, Executive Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council USA. "We recognize the leadership shown by Senator Markey in introducing this bill, which mandates a roster of initiatives to ensure that the U.S. is able to lead in confronting the humanitarian impact of this man-made crisis and ensuring that people impacted by disasters get the support and protection they deserve for a better future."
 
“Now is the time to acknowledge that changing weather patterns due to climate change are a direct cause of displacement around the world,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “JRS/USA supports this legislation as an important step toward recognizing the displacement needs and human cost of climate change and in demonstrating global leadership in welcoming those forced to flee their homes.”

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