The Center for Climate & Security

The Biden Administration & Climate Security: Week One

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What a week for climate security! In his inaugural address on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said, “The cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” acknowledged the “climate is in crisis,” and promised “we will be judged…by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.” Not long after he was sworn in, President Biden signed an Executive Order to rejoin the Paris Agreement–recommendation 1.13 in our Climate Security Plan for America (CSPA). On Thursday morning, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry hit the ground running in a meeting with world leaders, promising “humility and ambition” in tackling the climate crisis.   

This week, the Senate also held hearings on key national security and cabinet nominees–many of whom recognized climate risks in their opening remarks. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines called climate change a “critical transnational threat,” while Secretary of State-Designate Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury-Designate Janet Yellen both termed the threat “existential.” Homeland Security Secretary-Designate Alejandro Mayorkas noted his agency’s role in tackling  “longer-term threats like climate change”, stating that being “prepared for and resilient to natural disasters” requires work with state, local, tribal and territorial governments. Selecting cabinet officials who will put climate change front and center in national security discussions is exactly what we called for in the CSPA first pillar: Demonstrate Leadership


Sherri Goodman on the Climatization of Security for the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies

By Mackenzie Allen

In early December 2020, Sherri Goodman spoke with Bangladeshi retired Major General Munir Muniruzzaman about climate security in South East Asia and the United States. Goodman discussed mainstreaming climate change in foreign policy and national security decision-making as part of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) virtual ‘Strategic Conversation’ discussion program. 

Sherri Goodman currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Council on Strategic Risks and is a Senior Strategist for its Center for Climate and Security. General Muniruzzaman is the President of the BIPSS and Chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change. 


EVENT: Unprecedented Foresight: Opportunities to Improve Climate Security Risk Assessments in the Biden Administration – Jan 28

The second panel in our series, “Planning for the First 100 Days and Beyond”

January 28, 2020 2-3:30 pm EST

This virtual event hosted by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, is the second in our series looking at actions the Biden Administration can take on climate security in its first 100 days and beyond. This panel will explore opportunities to leverage unprecedented foresight capabilities to assess climate security risks. Panelists will discuss how the U.S. government can better integrate climate models and projections and strengthen the collection and dissemination of relevant data in order to conduct increasingly robust and actionable assessments of climate risks, including recommendations in the Climate Security Plan for America – published by CCS and endorsed by dozens of military, foreign policy and intelligence experts, including eight retired four-star generals and admirals. 


The U.S. Congress Overrode Trump Veto on FY21 NDAA: Here are the Climate Security Highlights in the Bill

By John Conger

On January 1, the U.S. Senate voted to override Mr. Trump’s veto of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with an 81-13 vote.  A few days earlier, the House voted 322-87 to override the veto.  It is worth noting that the Statement of Administration Policy, which lists Mr. Trump’s objections to the bill, did not express opposition to any of its climate provisions.

This bill continues the trend we’ve seen in recent years of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees passing pragmatic climate security legislation without making it a political issue.  In this bill, for example, Congress directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a strategy to follow up on its 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, essentially asking for a plan to climate proof the DoD.  Given the signals the incoming Biden Administration has sent, there is every reason to expect it to develop an ambitious plan in response.  It also continues the trend of expanding resilience authorities by granting broad authority to fund projects that improve the climate resilience of DoD installations – even when located on private land.  (For those readers unfamiliar with the nuances of DoD funding, this is a big deal… and it’s important because climate change doesn’t recognize fence lines and sometimes the actions you need to take are outside the base.)

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