Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be attending the 11th Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas (CDMA), according to a DoD press release it is the “the Western Hemisphere’s “premiere venue” for senior leaders to discuss regional defense issues,” and climate change is on the agenda. At a press conference earlier this week Secretary Hagel provided a preview of the topics he will discuss at the CDMA tomorrow. Sec. Hagel noted specifically the role of climate change on the security environment. John Banusiewicz with DoD news reports:
Hagel said climate change can have a significant effect on the security environment, noting that as sea levels rise, so can potential threats.
“When there is any natural disaster event that occurs, there always is some element of a security risk — law and order, individuals attempting to take advantage of those catastrophes, adjusting to shifts in security requirements,” he said.
Banusiewicz also reports on Sec. Hagel’s focus on the Arctic:
The secretary cited the Arctic as an example. “We see an Arctic that is melting, meaning that most likely a new sea lane will emerge,” he said. “We know that there are significant minerals and natural deposits of oil and natural gas there. That means that nations will compete for those natural resources.”
That hasn’t been an issue before, Hagel said. “You couldn’t get up there and get anything out of there,” he added. “We have to manage through what those conditions and new realities are going to bring in the way of potential threats.”
Earlier this week, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby also previewed how climate and security issues would feature in Secretary Hagel’s visit to the region, specifically at the CDMA meeting:
The major theme of this year’s conference, Kirby said, is environmental security.
“He will describe DoD’s efforts to assess and respond to the risks that climate change poses to our military’s installations, operations and training,” the admiral said.
“And he will propose cooperation with partner nations to address these risks.”
For more on tomorrow’s CDMA meeting, see the CDMA homepage. There you will also find some background reading, which includes a report on Environmental and Energy Issues for the U.S. military in Latin America co-authored by our Senior Research Fellow, Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (ret).