The Center for Climate & Security

Implementing the Biden Administration’s Climate Executive Order – The White House Report on Climate Change and Migration

By Brigitte Hugh

In October, the Biden Administration released several climate security reports in accordance with the Executive Orders on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration. We are publishing a series of blog posts examining each report in depth. Previously we have looked at the Defense Climate Risk Analysis and The DHS Strategic Framework For Addressing Climate Change. 

In October of this year, the Biden Administration released the White House Report on Climate Change and Migration. As a first-of-its kind report by the White House, the document does a thorough job of assessing the linkages between climate change and migration, and making preliminary recommendations for how to begin addressing them. It is a positive step forward in fulfilling the second pillar of our 2019 Climate Security Plan for America: Assess the Risks, though more must be done to get ahead of the issue.


The Biden Administration’s Whole of Government Approach to Climate Security

President Biden at the Leaders Summit on Climate – 22 April 2021

By Joon Hwang

“Climate change is an increasingly destabilizing force—an accelerating destabilization force—and it’s impacting our operational environment, it’s creating new missions, and our allies and partners are going to be called to respond to these increased demands,” said Brigadier General Rebecca Sonkiss, Deputy Director for Counter Threats and International Cooperation at the Joint Staff (J5), at a recent event hosted by the Wilson Center and the Center for Climate and Security. At the event, senior U.S. Government officials reflected on the significance of the Biden administration’s new climate security reports and how climate security is being prioritized and coordinated across defense and development, providing insight into the administration’s whole-of-government approach.


U.S. House Hearing on the National Security Implications of Climate Change in the Arctic 

By Dr. Marc Kodack 

On November 20, the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber held a virtual hearing entitled “National Security Implications of Climate Change in the Arctic.” Witnesses providing written statements and answering questions included retired Admiral Paul Zukunft, Former Commandant of U.S. Coast Guard and an Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security; Dr. Susan Natali, Arctic Program Director, Woodwell Climate Research Center; Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chairperson, Inuit Circumpolar Council, and Luke Coffey, Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation. 


Climate-Forward Diplomacy, Development, and Defense at the Pacific Futures Forum

By Elsa Barron

Last month, the Pacific Futures Forum, which is a platform for collaborative dialogue to re-imagine multilateralism in a changing world, hosted critical conversations in the lead up to the COP26 Glasgow summit. The plenary session, “Transforming our world: a secure, sustainable, and prosperous future,” featured former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. In his keynote address, Moon underlined the importance of supporting the political will that was initiated at COP21 to fulfil our moral responsibility to act on climate change. Following this call to action, moderator Samira Ahmed led panelists Hon. Sherri Goodman, Samir Saran, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti CB, Divya Seshamani, and Benet Northcote in a discussion on a secure, sustainable, and prosperous future. The panel covered the role of diplomacy, development, and defense within the framework of environmental security.

COP26 itself kick-started the conversation on global diplomacy. When asked about her priorities for the global summit, Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist with the Center for Climate and Security and Chair of the Board at the Council on Strategic Risks, emphasized that we are well on our way to 1.5 degrees celsius of warming, and that temperature rise exacerbates threat multipliers for insecurity such as extreme temperature, drought, and natural disaster. Therefore, Goodman noted, COP26 must focus on the root of the problem: emissions. Enacting deep-decarbonization and setting and achieving net-zero goals is a crucial diplomatic goal in regard to climate change. Samir Saran, President of the Observer Research Foundation, agreed, adding that there is a need for global leadership that is capable of policy making and diplomacy with a long-term perspective in mind, detached from the perpetual need for immediate gain that is often antithetical to solid climate commitments.

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