Release: Military and National Security Leaders Strongly Criticize Politicized “Presidential Climate Security Committee”
Washington, DC, February 20, 2019 — A non-partisan group of senior retired military and national security leaders at the Council on Strategic Risks’ Center for Climate and Security (CCS) strongly criticized the White House’s politically-motivated draft Executive Order (EO) to establish a Presidential Climate Security Committee (PCSS). According to descriptions of the draft by the The Washington Post, the PCSS would be chaired by a vocal climate denier that reports to the President. CCS also learned that the committee would allegedly provide “adversarial” peer review to reports coming from the intelligence, defense, science and other agencies. The group centered its criticism on these two elements which render the PCSS neither rigorous nor independent.
“This is the equivalent of setting up a committee on nuclear weapons proliferation and having someone lead it who doesn’t think nuclear weapons exist,” said Francesco Femia, Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Strategic Risks and Co-Founder of the Center for Climate and Security in an interview with The Washington Post. “It’s honestly a blunt force political tool designed to shut the national security community up on climate change.”
“Looks like someone at the White House doesn’t like the fact that our defense and intelligence agencies are concerned about the security implications of climate change,” said John Conger, Director of the Center for Climate and Security and former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment. “So they want to set up a politically-led panel to undermine the credibility of military and security experts. They don’t seem to understand that to the military and to the broader security community, this is an issue of risk, readiness, and resilience, not politics. The military doesn’t have the luxury of deciding to ignore certain threats because a politician doesn’t find them convenient.”
“For over 7 decades, our Nation has been the instrument of change in establishing world order in the face of fascism, communism and terrorism. The human toll from these “isms” has been catastrophic and those of us who have served in public office and in uniform can be rightfully proud for taking decisive action to right those wrongs. But to deny the trajectory of the global climate defies America’s bias for action as a catalyst for change among world leaders.” – Admiral Paul Zukunft, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret), Senior Member of the Advisory Board at the Center for Climate and Security and former Commandant of the Coast Guard
The Hague, Netherlands, 19 February 2019 — At the Planetary Security Conference, a meeting of hundreds of security and foreign policy experts and practitioners, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and its partners the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)/ the Planetary Security Initiative, the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) announced the creation of a new International Military Council on Climate and Security, or IMCCS. The IMCCS will be a “standing” umbrella network of senior military leaders from across the globe that will meet regularly, produce an annual World Climate and Security Report, and drive communications and policy in support of actions on the security implications of a changing climate – at national, regional and international levels. As it expands, the IMCCS will welcome new members and institutional affiliates from across the globe. The Center for Climate and Security, a policy institute of the Council on Strategic Risks with a team and advisory board of senior military and security experts, will serve as the Secretariat of the IMCCS. (more…)
UPDATE: Chronology of U.S. Military Statements and Actions on Climate Change and Security: 2017-2019
Since January 2017, twenty-one senior officials at the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) have publicly raised concerns about, and recommended actions to address, the security implications of climate change, both due to its effect on military infrastructure, readiness and operations, and its broader geostrategic implications for the United States.
This includes then-Secretary of Defense, James Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), Lucian L. Niemeyer; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, John Henderson; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson; Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville; AFRICOM Commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser; Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, Major General Timothy Green; NORTHCOM/ NORAD Commander, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy; Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, Alex Beehler; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, General Robert McMahon; General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps; and most recently, Admiral Philip Davidson, INDOPACOM Commander. The DoD also produced a survey report on the matter in January 2018, and a report to Congress on climate change threats to its critical military infrastructure and Geographic Combatant Commands in January 2019.
Below is a chronological list of written and verbal statements by these defense officials, as well as links to DoD reports and other government documents covering the climate-military nexus, that have been released during this Administration thus far. Each entry includes a link to its source, which includes more information and context. (more…)
Welcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!
In this episode, Michael Wu, Policy Fellow at The Center for Climate and Security and Principal of Converge Strategies, talks about the electric grid and its history. He discusses how the risk of long-term, widespread power outages is increasing as threats from natural disasters and adversaries increase. These threats mutually reinforce each another in that natural disasters make impacted areas more vulnerable to nefarious attacks. He explains what electricity disruptions mean for Department of Defense mission completion as well as implications for our daily lives. Tune in to this informative discussion! (more…)
By John Conger
During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 12, Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), affirmed the threat climate change poses to his Area of Responsibility, becoming the 21st senior military official to raise concerns about climate risks during the current Administration (see here for a list from November, and here for statements from Admiral Moran and General Neller in December).
During questioning, Admiral Davidson confirmed that he agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment of the climate change threat, as articulated in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment published by the Director for National Intelligence (NOTE: climate change has been identified as a security threat in each of the last ten such assessments). (more…)
Unprecedented Risks, Unprecedented Foresight: A “Responsibility to Prepare” Strategy for the United States in 2020
The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) is a security policy institute devoted to anticipating, analyzing and addressing core systemic risks to security in the 21st century, with special examination of the ways in which these risks intersect and exacerbate one another. To further this goal, CSR hosts non-partisan centers tackling unprecedented security risks from climate change (The Center for Climate and Security) and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons (The Center on Strategic Weapons), as well as a program designed to study converging, cross-sectoral threats (The Converging Risks Lab). As the United States looks forward to 2020, it must use its unprecedented foresight to prepare for and address these unprecedented security risks.
A Responsibility to Prepare Strategy for 2020
The bad news is that the United States and its allies currently face unprecedented risks from climate change; nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; authoritarian nationalism; and other disruptive trends. The good news is that the U.S. and its allies, due to advances in data-analysis technologies, including AI, also possess unprecedented foresight about these risks. That combination of unprecedented risks and unprecedented foresight underlines a Responsibility to Prepare. This responsibility will fall to whomever assumes the office of the President of the United States in 2020. (more…)
By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, US Navy (Ret)
Most of the story-lines driving the international community’s understanding of the Venezuelan crisis center on the Maduro regime’s gross mismanagement of the economy, and its clean break from democratic laws and tradition. That makes sense, not least as the most “proximate” causes of the current political turmoil in the country seem to be clearly related to those factors. However, there are some background factors that have gone less noticed. The Venezuelan government’s inability to manage its strained water resources in the face of a drought that the nation’s meteorologists characterized as “the worst in at least 40 years,” for example, is a largely unwritten part of the story that deserves to be aired. (more…)