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New Report from the Pentagon – Geographic Combatant Commands Already Addressing Climate Change Threat

U.S._Unified_Command_Plan_Map_2011-04-06Washington, D.C. — The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a policy institute with an Advisory Board of senior retired military officers and national security experts, supports the U.S. Department of Defense’s recently-released report to Congress “National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate.”

Significantly, the report highlights what the U.S. Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) are already doing to address the climate threat. As noted in the report “Although climate-related stress will disproportionately affect fragile and conflict-affected states, even resilient, well-developed countries are subject to the effects of climate change in significant and consequential ways…For these reasons, Combatant Commands are integrating climate-related impacts into their planning cycles. Depending on the region, risks to Combatant Commands vary, but all GCCs share a common assessment of its significance.”

The report also makes it very clear that the Department of Defense considers climate change an existing threat, stating: “The Department of Defense sees climate change as a present security threat, not strictly a long-term risk.” In this context, the report identifies climate-related threats to security that are happening today: “We are already observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, and in the Arctic, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America.”

This assessment reflects studies the Center for Climate and Security has produced, including:
2012: Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest
2013: The Arab Spring and Climate Change
2015: Did We See it Coming? State Fragility, Climate Vulnerability, and the Uprisings in Syria and Egypt

CCS Advisory Board member Rear Admiral David W. Titley, USN (ret), noted: “This report demonstrates that the Geographic Combatant Commands are already facing the security risks of a changing climate in the battlespace – a risk that will make their jobs dealing with many other risks all the more difficult. Now it’s time for Washington to give them the tools and resources they need to manage this risk.”

Francesco “Frank” Femia and Caitlin Werrell, Co-Founders and Directors of the Center for Climate and Security, stated: “The Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) are at the front lines of dealing with the risks climate change poses to the operational landscape on the ground. Washington should take note of this perspective from the field, and support the GCCs in minimizing those risks.”

CCS Advisory Board member Dr. Marcus King said: “The defense community has examined scenarios of how climate change can impact national security for years now. In October 2014, DoD issued a Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap that recognized climate change as an immediate risk not only to military operations but to stability in nations of concern to the U.S. Today’s report to Congress identifies specific ways that regional military commanders can plan timely responses to these risks. The full attention and support of Congressional appropriators is essential to this important work.”

CCS Advisory Board member Lukas Haynes also weighed in: “This is another landmark report on the clear and present danger that climate disruption poses to the nation. Congressional leaders should review it in good faith and support our uniformed leaders in responding.”

The Center for Climate and Security applauds the Department of Defense for continuing to address the national security risks of a changing climate, and calls on policy-makers to follow the U.S. military’s lead.

Read the report here:

To speak with a CCS expert and/or Advisory Board member on this topic:
Francesco Femia, ffemia at climateandsecurity dot org

Related material: For the U.S. military, climate change is not political. The U.S. military has been planning for climate change impacts from as early as 2003, as is clear from our Climate and Security Resource Hub on Defense:

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