As Climate-Related Disasters Intensify, Retreat Emerges as Adaptation Strategy
(Kleinman Center Podcast | Sept. 15, 2020) When policymakers talk about adapting to climate change, they often focus on measures to reinforce towns and cities against natural disasters, such as the wildfires and flooding that have become more severe across the United States in recent years. Yet what is often more difficult to contemplate is the idea that some places may inevitably need to be abandoned. This idea of abandonment, or retreat from areas that are at great risk due to climate change, is understandably very difficult to think about. Retreat means leaving behind homes, and the possible disruption of communities and livelihoods.
Mark Nevitt, associate professor of law at Syracuse University and a former legal counsel with the Department of Defense Regional Environmental Counsel in Norfolk, Virginia, explores how managed retreat ahead of likely disaster is itself a key climate adaptation strategy, and one which may ease, though not eliminate, the burden on impacted communities. Mark discusses his recent Kleinman Center-funded research into legal issues associated with climate adaptation, and how existing laws may present barriers to efforts to manage retreat from high risk areas.