RELEASE: Bipartisan Group of Military, Political and City Leaders Gather in Seattle to Talk Climate Change and Security
Event brings US and Asia-Pacific perspective on building U.S. military and community resilience to climate change
Seattle, WA – Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee Congressman Adam Smith, military experts who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and community leaders from the Seattle area are gathering to discuss existing and future national security risks from climate change, and outline opportunities for Asia-Pacific cooperation on the issue at a roundtable on Monday, October 30 from 1-5pm PDT (livestreamed here). The Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, 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 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. 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 sea-level rise.
“Our military leaders have been clear with Congress that the effects of climate change are already having an impact on our national security and the safety of our men and women in uniform.” said Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee. “We need to listen to them and take action now to invest in solutions that strengthen the readiness of our Armed Forces. Washington state has been a leader in finding climate solutions, and can be a valuable partner for the Department of Defense in combating climate change.”
Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, U.S. Navy (retired), Advisory Board Member with the Center for Climate and Security, noted:
“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.
In respect to these domestic infrastructure risks, John Conger, Senior Policy Advisor with the Center for Climate and Security and former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Environment and Installations, added:
“The US military recognized early that it had to account for climate change and its effects on infrastructure, readiness and future mission requirements. In many respects, the DoD is leading the Federal Government in adapting to climate change.”
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, the gathered leaders plan to 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.
Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, U.S. Army (Retired), Advisory Board Member with the Center for Climate and Security and one of the authors of its Military Expert Panel Report on sea level rise, noted:
“Military installations around the world are the sites at which the services conduct their training, manage their logistics and maintain the platforms from which our forces are launched to carry out combat and peacekeeping missions. Those located in coastal areas face the relentless rise of sea level and must be prepared to adapt to the impacts these changes bring. They must recognize what impacts these changes in sea level will have, when they may occur, and, with the support of the Congress, take the necessary steps to adjust their infrastructure to meet the challenges they identify. Since military installations rely heavily on neighboring communities for support, they must work with them to ensure that they too are able to deal with the adverse impacts of sea level rise.”
About: The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) is a non-partisan policy institute with a distinguished Advisory Board and team of military and security experts. The Center considers climate change a strategically-significant threat to national and international security, and supports policies that are commensurate to that threat.
Event livestreamed at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN8CUSL7vcF3teIH1TOoh2A/live
Members of the media are welcome to attend and report on the roundtable.
- Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission: https://climateandsecurity.org/militaryexpertpanel/
- The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change: https://climateandsecurity.org/asiapacificrebalance/
- Briefer: Climate Security Risks in the Asia-Pacific – An Opportunity for U.S. Engagement: https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/climate-security-risks-in-the-asia-pacific_an-opportunity-for-u-s-engagement_briefer-331.pdf