Vulnerable City, recipient city, or climate destination? Towards a typology of domestic climate migration impacts in US cities

Author: Marandi, Anna; Main, Kelly Leilani

Description: Globally, the impacts of climate change will uproot and displace millions of individuals, and American cities are on the frontline of these future population shifts. Our analysis of empirical documentation of migration factors as well as theoretical demographic models shows three predominate types of US cities affected by climate migration pathways: (1) vulnerable cities—those that will suffer significant losses in population and tax revenue; (2) recipient cities—those that serve as unsuspecting or unwilling “receiving communities” from sudden-onset disasters without preparation; and (3) climate destinations—cities seeking to rebrand their communities as “climate havens” that welcome displaced residents through equitable planning and preparation. Despite the evidence of such migration trends, there currently is limited guidance for governments at any scale to plan and prepare for these changes. Forced or unplanned migrations will have a profound and disproportionate impact on communities of color, the elderly, and other at-risk populations that are already experiencing the compounding effects of climate and environmental injustices. A lack of adequate preparation and resources dedicated to minimizing the impacts of planned and unplanned migration pathways could exacerbate existing economic, environmental, and social inequalities. Drawing from case studies in cities across the country that illustrate the typology outlined above, this paper presents a framework with preliminary strategies for policy makers to bridge knowledge gaps and design responses for both short- and long-term planning initiatives. In particular, we encourage the use of typological frameworks for implementing scenario planning that can help cities navigate the challenges of planning for future climate-migration to plan for more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable cities for all.

Subject headings: Climate change; Climate migration; Migrants; United States; Cities

Publication year: 2021

Journal or book title: Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Volume: 11

Pages: 465-480

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Serial number: 3853