What’s Going on Here?
The Biden Administration announced last Wednesday (Nov 30th) that it would provide USD $135 million (£110m) to Native American tribes facing imminent threats from climate change. The funding represents one of the largest efforts by the United States to relocate communities due to the physical impacts from global warming.
What Does This Mean?
The funds are being provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, which was approved by Congress this year and includes sweeping tax and climate change reforms.
Two Native tribes in Alaska and one in Washington State will receive $25 million each to move to higher ground – away from areas where rising waters present a threat to key buildings in those communities. In addition, eight other tribes will receive $5 million in planning grants to prepare for future relocation. The three relocation grants will support communities in battling aggressive erosion, degrading permafrost, intense flooding, rising sea levels, and storm surges.
Why Should We Care?
Thus far, politicians have focused on mitigation and adaptation strategies to address climate risks. The funding represents a point-of-no-return in the battle against climate change, where the federal government recognizes that an area will soon be unlivable and no effort can be made to mitigate or adapt to the changing climate.
A 2020 study conducted by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs estimated that more than $5 billion will be needed to relocate Native Tribes due to the impacts from climate change over the next 50 years. This project looks to provide a draft for similar efforts needed in the future when communities need to conduct a managed retreat.
Learn more about projects supporting tribal communities adapting to climate change in this interactive map provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Make sure you include Indigenous Communities in building out Climate agendas. If you work in renewables, check out this guide by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment on how to best consult communities.
Watch this TED Talk where environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim discusses how her Indigenous community in Chad works closely with scientists to restore endangered ecosystems.