The mayors of a dozen major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, and San Diego, are asking President Joe Biden to consult them as the administration studies how to identify and resettle people displaced directly or indirectly by drought, rising seas and other effects of climate change.
The request was made in a letter sent to Biden on Thursday the same day his administration convened a summit of world leaders to discuss taking action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
No nation offers protection to people specifically displaced because of climate change. Biden issued an executive order Feb. 4 ordering national security adviser Jake Sullivan to consult federal agencies on how to do that and issue a report in August.
The mayors say they should be consulted as well since cities are on the frontlines of receiving most of the migrants, refugees and others displaced by storms, drought and other effects of climate change. The mayors of Chicago, Pittsburgh, Denver, Miami, and Houston also signed the letter.
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The effects of climate change has produced an average of 23 million refugees a year since 2010, according to a World Meteorological Organization report released Monday. Nearly 10 million were recorded in the first six months of last year. Most moved within their own country.
Vittoria Zanuso, executive director of the Mayors Migration Council, the letter’s organizer, said cities want a role in helping Biden fill in the gap of protecting climate migrants, and that any plan should address the relocation of Americans, who have been fleeing wildfires and other weather-related calamities.
“This is an opportunity for localities, including cities, to be part of the process, part of solution,” she said.