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Climate Security in the State Department 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report to the UNFCCC

600px-Department_of_stateThe U.S. State Department has just released its “2014 U.S. Climate Action Report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.” As announced on the official website:

On January 1, 2014, the Department of State submitted the 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This report, which includes the First U.S. Biennial Report and Sixth U.S. National Communication to the UNFCCC, details actions the United States is taking domestically and internationally to mitigate, adapt to, and assist others in addressing climate change. The 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report fulfills requirements under the UNFCCC for all Parties to report periodically on actions and progress in combating climate change. The last U.S. Climate Action Report submitted was in 2010. Over the course of 2014, UNFCCC Parties will provide their first biennial reports: developed countries are to provide theirs by January 1, 2014 and developing countries are to provide biennial update reports by the end of the year.

The report can be found here, 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. For our readers, we have excerpted sections of the report below that explicitly highlight climate change as a national security concern. The concepts of “risk” and “preparedness,”  that are central to an understanding of the national security implications of a changing climate, are also embedded throughout the report (as are energy, food and water security), but for clarity, we are only including excerpts that explicitly mention climate change as a matter of “U.S. national security.” Mentions of U.S. national security appear most frequently in sections dedicated to vulnerability, adaptation and research, and systematic observations.

From the “First US Biennial Report” portion of the report:

1. Facing The Climate Challenge
“We will also improve our ability to manage the climate impacts that are already being felt at home and around the world. Preparing for increasingly extreme weather and other consequences of climate change will save lives now and help to secure long-term American and global prosperity and security (pg. 7).”

6. Looking Ahead – the President’s Climate Action Plan, Instituting a Federal Quadrennial Energy Review
“The administration will conduct a Quadrennial Energy Review to ensure that U.S. federal energy policy meets its economic, environmental, and security goals in this changing landscape. This first-ever review will focus on infrastructure challenges, and will identify the threats, risks, and opportunities for U.S. energy and climate security, enabling the federal government to translate policy goals into a set of analytically based, clearly articulated, sequenced, and integrated actions and proposed investments (pg. 16).”

From the “Sixth U.S. National Communication” portion of the report:

Chapter 1: Executive Summary
Climate change represents one of the greatest challenges of our time, with profound and wide-ranging implications for development, economic growth, the environment, and international security (pg. 50).”

Chapter 6: Vulnerability, Assessment, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Measures
SAMPLE U.S. ADAPTATION ACTIONS, Federal Government Adaptation Actions, Agency Adaptation Plans:
“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working to ensure the nation’s resilience to more frequent or extreme natural disasters, including the need to ensure safety and stability in the Arctic, (footnote 8) and prepare for changing conditions along the nation’s borders (U.S. DHS 2012). DHS has developed planning scenarios that include consideration of a series of cascading impacts associated with increased intensity of hurricanes and a nearly ice-free Arctic in summer with thinner ice cover in winter (pg. 164). (Footnote 8: The waters of the Arctic are gradually opening up, not only to new resource development, but also to new shipping routes that may reshape the global transport system and affect U.S. national security interests. While these developments offer opportunities for growth, they are potential sources of competition and conflict for access and natural resources (pg. 164).”

Chapter 8: Research and Systematic Observations
RESEARCH ON GLOBAL CHANGE, Advancing Global Change Science, Modeling Capabilities, Integration across Major Classes of Models:
“New and enhanced models are expected to make important contributions toward advancing fundamental understanding of climate change, as well as informing future policymaking, planning, and decision support for sectors, such as energy, natural resources, food, and water,and national security. Used in conjunction with climate and ESMs, so-called IAV models are designed for assessments of potential climate change impacts, critical vulnerabilities, and effective adaptation strategies in such sectors as agriculture, coastal systems, energy, transportation, health, forestry, fisheries, and ecosystem services. These IAV models also assist in the development of more informative and comprehensive scenarios of drivers of future climate forcing, socioeconomic vulnerability, and adaptive capacity (pg. 201).”

USGCRP International Research Programs and Partnerships:
“Another example of efforts to advance cooperation among international global environmental change communities can be found in the outcomes of the World Climate Conference-3, with a decision to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) to strengthen the application of science-based climate prediction and services around the world. Such a framework has the potential to offer significant economic, public health and safety, and security benefits for participating countries, and the physical, biological, and social science research and infrastructure funded by USGCRP agencies are highly relevant to the GFCS. USGCRP is already working with WCRP to develop the modeling and understanding components of the GFCS that will emphasize linkages to adaptation and observations. USGCRP can further contribute to, and benefit from, this emerging framework through increased coordination with the international community to provide global change information (pg. 204).”

SYSTEMATIC OBSERVATIONS, Space-Based Observations:
“The United States continues to demonstrate the immense value of satellites for observing the changing global climate and for developing new fundamental knowledge of the global integrated Earth system. Satellite observations and the increased scientific understanding they enable can improve international security, enhance economic prosperity, mitigate impacts of short-term and climate-related hazards, and strengthen global stewardship of the environment. The U.S. policy is to maximize timely, full, and open access to data from its civil satellites and to disseminate tools and knowledge to use this information (pg. 213).”


  1. Francois T says:

    If climate change is such a national security threat, why are a small group of uber-wealthy allowed to thwart every effort to deal with it?

    You can bet your bottom peso that if the Occupy movement was the responsible to block policy responses to climate change, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

  2. Vlad Fomin says:

    Hello! The above excerpts from the document serious global nature give an idea of recognizing the risks and dangers ( to mankind ) , caused by climate change and , as a consequence, frequent natural negative anomalies – all over the planet . I thank the authors of the document as a whole , and the authors of the text presented : the totality of their knowledge , IMHO, meets the most stringent modern requirements. Only a small addition : convinced that the negative impact of climate change on humanity , environment and infrastructure will increase in the near future . Observation, forecasting, planning , development and implementation of technologies for adaptation to climate change necessarily lead to the depletion of the resource potential , which will highlight the humanity is capable . Conclusion – simple : sooner or later, this path may be a dead end . “One Way Ticket”. Therefore , I think the question is more acute the need for and implementation of technologies for climate stabilization … liquidation ( in the future) the negative effects of climate anomalies .

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