The Center for Climate & Security

A Very Strong Signal: 5 Key Takeaways on John Kerry’s Climate Envoy Role and Seat on the National Security Council

By John Conger, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

On Monday, President-Elect Biden announced several members of his national security team.  They included Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, and… former Secretary of State John Kerry as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. While each of these announcements have positive implications for how climate change is addressed by the national security enterprise, let’s explore five key implications of this last announcement. 

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How to Prioritize Climate Change in U.S. National Security

By Kate Guy

From the outset of Joe Biden’s run for the American presidency, he pledged to look at national security with fresh eyes. Evolving systemic threats like climate change, often relegated to the portfolios of environmental experts and science agencies, were repeatedly mentioned in his plans to remake U.S. defense and foreign policy. “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” he often reiterated in the closing days of his campaign.

Now, with the first members of President-elect Biden’s national security team announced, it’s clear that he has taken the first steps to make good on these campaign promises. In the past few years, nominees like Blinken, Sullivan, and Haines have each referenced the need for the U.S. to prioritize addressing climate change in its approach to global challenges. And with the creation of a cabinet-level Presidential Climate Envoy, long-time climate security leader John Kerry will sit in every meeting of the National Security Council with his eye trained on climate threats.

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U.S. Department of Defense: Funding Available for Environmental Research and Development

ALEXANDRIA, VA, November 4, 2020—The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is seeking to fund environmental research and development in the Resource Conservation and Resiliency program area.  SERDP invests across the broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced technology development.  The development and application of innovative environmental technologies will reduce the costs, environmental risks, and time required to resolve environmental problems while, at the same time, enhancing and sustaining military readiness.

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How Federal Climate Change Actions and Inactions on Food Security Affect the Department of Defense

Marc Kodack PhotoBy Dr. Marc Kodack

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has an interest in what other federal agencies are doing to address climate change risks in their programs because some of these programs assist DoD in lowering its’ current and future deployment and operational risks, including risks to the health and well-being of its force. This is particularly the case regarding climate change impacts on food security.

In this context, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) conducted a broad review of climate change adaptation programs across the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last summer that included (but was not limited to) food security, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audited the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on how USAID reports direct and indirect climate change adaptation actions. (more…)

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