The Center for Climate & Security

Event Summary and Video: Jumpstarting Clean Technology for National Security

By Brigitte Hugh

“The demand signals we send today will induce suppliers or innovators to develop and scale those new [sustainable] technologies,” said Varun Sivaram, Senior Director for Clean Energy and Innovation in the Office of US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, at a recent event hosted by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) titled  “Jumpstarting Demand for Climate Solutions: The First Movers Coalition and US National Security.” (A full recording of the event is available here and below).


Dan Chiu, Ellen Laipson, Maureen Sullivan, and Amali Tower Join the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

By Brigitte Hugh

The Center for Climate and Security is pleased and honored to announce that Dr. Daniel Y. Chiu, Ellen Laipson, Maureen Sullivan and Amali Tower have joined its distinguished Advisory Board of military and national security leaders. This group supports CCS leadership by providing substantive and strategic guidance as needed. 

Dr. Daniel Y. Chiu is the Director of the Joint Advanced Warfighting Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center. He leads a diverse team of military, technical, and analytic experts to support the US Department of Defense in concept and capability development through Joint Experimentation and Defense Innovation. Working primarily with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, his team focuses on analytic wargaming, dynamic red-teaming, and broad-spectrum horizon scanning as well as technical and historic lessons-learned. Read Dr. Chiu’s full bio here

Ellen Laipson is the Director of the International Security program and directs the Center for Security Policy Studies at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She joined GMU in 2017 after a distinguished 25 year career in government and as President and CEO of the Stimson Center (2002-2015). Her last post in government was Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council (1997-2002). She also served on the State Department’s policy planning staff, the National Security Council staff, and worked at the Congressional Research Service for more than a decade. Read Ms. Laipson’s full bio here

Maureen Sullivan is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Environment). For 29 years, Ms. Sullivan served in various leadership positions as a member of the Office of the Secretary of Defense environmental staff. During her service, she was responsible for DoD’s policies and programs related to compliance with environmental laws; management of natural and cultural resources; cleanup of contaminated sites; fire and emergency services; green/sustainable buildings; installation emergency management; international environmental policy; and planning to address emerging chemicals of concern. Ms. Sullivan retired in 2020 after over 40 years of service in the Department of Defense. Read Ms. Sullivan’s full bio here

Amali Tower is the founder and executive director of Climate Refugees. She has extensive global experience in refugee protection, refugee resettlement, and in forced migration and displacement contexts, having worked for numerous NGOs, the UN Refugee Agency, and the US Refugee Admissions Program. She has conducted country and regional visits of case studies and research in climate-induced displacement contexts, including in urban and camp settings. Read Ms. Tower’s full bio here.

States of Emergency: Climate Change Risks to U.S. Military Installations in 2021 

Debris litters Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael on October 17, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. Many U.S. military bases are in locations vulnerable to storm damage and sea-level rise.

By John Conger and Erin Sikorsky

On January 5, the Washington Post published an analysis of climate change-related emergencies in 2021 and concluded that more than 40 percent of Americans live in counties that were covered by federal disaster declarations in the past year. The devastating effects of the severe storms, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and droughts identified in the analysis pose a range of security risks to the US homeland, including direct loss of life (more than 650 people died from these disasters according to the Post), economic harm (NOAA estimates 20 separate “billion dollar” disasters in the US in 2021), and critical infrastructure damage. These climate-driven shocks also undermine long-term US resilience and compound other risks such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

An additional security risk is one we at the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) have spent a lot of time talking about over the years: the implications of climate change and extreme weather on military installations.  In recent years, hurricanes have done billions of dollars of damage to Tyndall Air Force Base  in Florida and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina; while the 2019 Missouri River flood inundated Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, home to US STRATCOM.  Meanwhile, wildfires have repeatedly driven the evacuation of bases in California including portions of Camp Pendleton and Beale Air Force Base in 2021. 


BRIEFER – Climate Change and Terrorism: Three Risk Pathways to Consider

By Dr. Cullen S. Hendrix

Climate change itself is unlikely to be a cause around which non-state armed actors coalesce and around which their political aims revolve. But climate change will increasingly create recruiting opportunities and expose weaknesses in state institutions that will make existing and future terrorist organizations more capable and/or likely to emerge.

To date, environmental issues have not been a primary cause around which terrorist organizations have organized. Setting aside destructive but largely nonviolent groups like the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts, there are very few terrorist organizations that explicitly cite environmental issues as their primary motivation. None of the organizations on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations – neither past nor present – are primarily oriented around environmental issues. Even in cases where environmental issues are central to terrorist discourse, they may be as much about marketing as they are about conditions on the ground.

Read the full briefer here.

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