RELEASE: Bipartisan Military, Political and City Leaders Talk Climate Change Risks and Opportunities in San Diego
Event brings US and Asia-Pacific perspective on building U.S. military and community resilience to climate change
San Diego, CA – Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Democratic Congressman Scott Peters, military experts who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and community leaders from the San Diego area, are gathering at the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park in San Diego to discuss existing and future national security risks from climate change, and outline opportunities for Asia-Pacific cooperation on the issue at a daylong summit on Tuesday, February 21. The Center for Climate and Security, with support from The San Diego Foundation and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, are hosting the forum to inform policy responses to climate risks that will benefit both military and civilian communities, at home and in the broader Asia-Pacific region.
The idea of climate change as a national security threat has implications beyond harm to the environment. Studies by The Center for Climate and Security, the Pentagon, and the Department of Defense have all found that climate change is increasingly undermining our military operations and strategy. We know these threats can be mitigated with smart investments in renewable energy, resiliency, and energy security and I look forward to discussing how San Diego can continue to expand our leadership in these areas. – Congressman Scott Peters
The impacts of climate change — which include extreme drought and heat, sea level rise, dangerous storms, unpredictable flooding, and stress on resources — present a significant challenge to military readiness, national security and international stability. As noted in the Center for Climate and Security’s Military Expert Panel Report on sea level rise, coastal military bases within the country are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, including on the West Coast. The San Diego area’s Naval Base Coronado, for example, is already highly sensitive to inundation and flooding, with projections showing that 1 meter of sea level rise could reduce its training range to 29% of its current size, while 2 meters of sea level rise would reduce it to 5%. A 2016 Department of Defense report surveying 1,774 coastal military sites at home and abroad showed that much of that infrastructure faces significant risks due to projected sea-level rise.
The changing climate and dynamic events we see unfolding in the world’s oceans impact national security at home and abroad, directly impacting our critical coastal infrastructure in the United States and straining the capacities of our allies around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arctic. In addition to the risk of coastal inundation of critical infrastructure, water security and unforeseen vectors of disease also present security risks. But along with risks there are opportunities. The history of bipartisan support for tackling geo-strategic security challenges to US vital interests provides a solid foundation for addressing these risks, and seizing the opportunities, at this critical moment in history. – Commander David ‘Deke’ Slayton, USN (ret), Advisory Board Member with the Center for Climate and Security
The political, military and community leaders are coming together to discuss the need to manage these risks by making climate-resilient infrastructure and energy investments, including at military bases and surrounding civilian communities, but also more broadly in the Asia-Pacific region. This will build on existing bipartisan support from the national security community, as evidenced in last year’s statement by the Climate Security Consensus Project – a group of defense and national security leaders convened by the Center for Climate and Security, many of whom served in the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, G.W. Bush and Obama Administrations. The event represents the latest expression of bipartisan concern regarding the national security risks of climate change.
On the domestic front, expected topics will include the benefit of investing in local and regional climate resilience for both military and civilian infrastructure. Measures such as water conservation to ensure long-term water supply, investing in infrastructure to combat coastal erosion, supporting distributed energy systems less vulnerable to extreme weather, and boosting funding for wildfire prevention and response, would benefit military bases, training ranges and surrounding communities.
Here in San Diego we have a long history of working with our military and our world-class research institutions. Working together, we have made San Diego a leader in aerospace innovation, drones and unmanned systems. I have no doubt that by working together we will lead the way in creating a more sustainable future here and around the globe. – Mayor Kevin Faulconer
On the international side, experts will also identify the risks and potential areas of cooperation on climate change between the United States and its Asia-Pacific partners, allies and competitors. As noted by former Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, U.S. Navy (retired), in the Center for Climate and Security’s U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change report:
Today we find ourselves in a period of unprecedented global change – change that is offering many new opportunities, but also introducing significant emerging challenges to the global security environment. Foremost among these emerging challenges are the long-term security implications of climate change, particularly in the vast and vulnerable Asia-Pacific region, where the nexus of humanity and the effects of climate change are expected to be most profound. – Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, U.S. Navy (retired), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security
In terms of opportunities, experts will discuss local and regional climate adaptation measures, the role of the private sector in transitioning to more resilient coastal communities and military installations, the benefits that effective adaptation measures can have for military readiness and the strategic, international security relevance of building resilience along the Pacific coast.
The United States has the opportunity to strengthen its leadership and build on existing relations with our allies. It can also forge new partnerships and help in ensuring regional stability. – General Ronald Keys, USAF (retired), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security
The event featured the release of a new briefer on climate change and national security in the Asia-Pacific region by Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs with the Center for Climate and Security.
The event was held in partnership with Cleantech San Diego and Climate Education Partners, San Diego Region.
About: The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) is a non-partisan security and foreign policy institute with a distinguished Advisory Board of military, security and foreign policy experts. The Center considers climate change a strategically-significant threat to national security, and supports policies that are commensurate to that threat.
Briefer: Climate Security Risks in the Asia-Pacific – An Opportunity for U.S. Engagement: https://climateandsecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/climate-security-risks-in-the-asia-pacific_an-opportunity-for-u-s-engagement_briefer-331.pdf
The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change: https://climateandsecurity.org/asiapacificrebalance/
Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission: https://climateandsecurity.org/militaryexpertpanel/