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Climate Security Prominent in the Shangri-La Dialogue

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates addresses the audience during the 6th International Institute for Strategic Studies conference, the Shangri-La dialogue, in Singapore, June 2, 2007, Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates addresses the audience during the 6th International Institute for Strategic Studies conference, the Shangri-La dialogue, 2007, Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue (14th Asia Security Summit), an annual gathering of Asia-Pacific defense ministers, military and civilian staff, just concluded on May 31. Most of the media attention was focused on exchanges between the United States and China over the South China Sea, but climate security found its way into a number of discussions, including the prepared remarks of U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Ash Carter; Cirilo Cristóvão, Minister of Defence, Timor-Leste; Dr Fabian Pok, Minister for Defence, Papua New Guinea, and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (and Vice-President of the European Commission). Several other officials also addressed the issue during the Q&A sessions.

Below are excerpts from the speeches. Perhaps equally as significant as where climate change was mentioned is where it was not. It is perhaps these parts of the discussion, including the plenary sessions on New Forms of Security Collaboration in Asia and Preventing Conflict Escalation, that provide an interesting look into how these discussions can continue to evolve to better incorporate climate security dynamics. In the Special Session on Energy Security Challenges in the Indo-Pacific Region, for example, climate change was not mentioned until the Q&A portion of the discussion.

On the other hand, attention to humanitarian assistance and disaster response was, appropriately, ubiquitous. Given that climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of natural disasters in the region, future discussions on how to address these increased risks could potentially lead to additional opportunities for broader and deeper cooperation between Asia-Pacific nations. (more…)

Climate Security and the U.S. Pacific Command Posture: Strategic Long-term Challenges

Marines gather to listen to Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, speak aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

Marines gather to listen to Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, speak aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

On Thursday April 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea. Witnesses included Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, USN Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. Admiral Locklear has been particularly concerned about the threat of climate change to the region, in the context of U.S. strategic interests (see here, here, here and here). Admiral Locklear’s written testimony for Thursday’s hearing reiterated those concerns. Below are excepts from Admiral Locklear’s testimony. The full testimony is available here, and a transcript of the hearing is available here. (more…)

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Climate Risks to Installations

Naval District Washington (NDW) officials present their smart grid pilot to John Conger  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller/Released)

Naval District Washington (NDW) officials present their smart grid pilot to John Conger (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller/Released)

On March 11, 2015, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on “Military Construction, Environmental, Energy, and Base Closure Programs.” The testimony of John C. Conger, who is “performing the duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense Energy, Installations and Environment,” is worth particular notice, as it directly addresses climate risks to the Department of Defense’s mission, and outlines prudent steps DoD it taking to prepare for and mitigate those risks.  (more…)

Gen. Petraeus: Climate change remains a threat

"David H. Petraeus press briefing 2007" by Robert D. Ward

“David H. Petraeus press briefing 2007″ by Robert D. Ward

In an recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, “America on the way up,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA (Ret.) and Michael O’Hanlon with the Brookings Institution, make the case that the 21st Century could be the North American Century. (more…)

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