Washington, DC – On Capitol Hill today, two nonpartisan groups of senior military and national security experts facilitated by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) released reports identifying rapidly-growing risks to national security due to climate change, and urging the U.S. government to take those risks seriously (click here for a livestream of the release event, beginning at 9:30am EST). The reports include the 2nd Edition of CCS’s Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission and the Climate and Security Advisory Group’s Roadmap and Recommendations for the U.S. Government which outlines a “Responsibility to Prepare” framework for the U.S. government.
The Center for Climate and Security’s Military Expert Panel, including senior retired flag and general officers from each of the Armed Services, issued the 2nd edition of a report concluding that sea level rise risks to coastal military installations will present serious risks to military readiness, operations and strategy, underscoring a ‘responsibility to prepare.’ The report includes new information regarding military installation vulnerabilities, including to the energy and transportation infrastructure that these installations depend on, showing significant and even potentially catastrophic risks to high-value military sites.
“This report update asks the questions: ‘How bad could it be, could we operate through that, and if not…then what?’ The answer is that climate change is already presenting significant risks to military infrastructure, will continue to do so throughout this century, and if we don’t make some changes, will make the military’s job much harder. The next questions to answer are: ‘How long will it take to prepare for these risks, and how much will that cost?’ It’s past time we answer these questions, and start making the necessary investments. From a military perspective, we have a responsibility to prepare for this threat, just as we do other threats to national security.” – General Ronald Keys, USAF (Ret), Member of the Military Expert Panel, the Center for Climate and Security
“The Department of Defense intuitively understands it has a ‘responsibility to prepare’ for sea level rise, increased storm surges, wildfires and other climate change-related effects. Risks to military readiness, operations and strategy are concrete and already occurring. The military’s practical, clear-eyed and consistent approach to this challenge, across both Republican and Democratic Administrations, is a testament to its apolitical nature, and should pave the way for a continued bipartisan path forward on addressing the security risks of climate change.” – Heather Messera, Military Expert Panel Chair, the Center for Climate and Security
“Sea Level Rise and extreme weather adaptation and resilience for the Department of Defense requires a “whole of government and community” approach, both inside and outside the fence line, across the full extent of federal, state, local government and society writ large. DoD takes this ‘responsibility to prepare’ seriously – the threat is real – but it can’t do it alone, and it has no time to waste.” – Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips, USN (Ret), Member of the Military Expert Panel, the Center for Climate and Security
“Planning military infrastructure without considering climate change, especially coastal infrastructure and sea-level rise, is akin to steaming a ship into port without considering the water depths on the chart. We’re smarter than that, and we must demonstrate it. Our military prides itself on information based decision-making at every level, from the tactical to the strategic, and the decisions involving climate change are no different. Just like we do with navigation charts, we must consistently demand and invest in better information to inform our decisions, but as indicated in this report, the information at hand is clear and compelling – we are not sailing blindly! With that information at hand, we have a clear responsibility to prepare for this risk.” – Rear Admiral Jonathan White, USN (Ret), Member of the Military Expert Panel, the Center for Climate and Security
“Basing, living and responding in zones impacted by sea level rise and more frequent and severe weather events requires increased strategic diligence across all the stakeholders that sustain the resilience or our armed forces and first responders. We have a responsibility to our armed forces, and the nation, to prepare for these risks.” – Vice Admiral Robert Parker, USCG (Ret), Member of the Military Expert Panel, the Center for Climate and Security
The report asserts that policies for addressing climate change risks must go beyond military infrastructure resilience, to include the resilience of surrounding civilian infrastructure, as well as the resilience of military operations and strategy in the face of these rapid changes. The authors recommend that policy-makers support comprehensive measures to address increasing risks from sea level rise. Recommendations include:
- Identify and build capacity to address infrastructural, operational and strategic risks;
- Integrate climate impact scenarios and projections into regular planning cycles;
- Make climate-related decisions that incorporate the entire spectrum of risk projections;
- Model catastrophic scenarios and incorporate into planning and war gaming;
- Maintain close collaboration with adjacent civilian communities;
- Invest in improvements in climate data and analysis.
The Panel includes retired flag and general officers from across the Armed Services: General Ronald Keys, USAF (Ret), Lieutenant General John Castellaw, USMC (Ret), Vice Admiral Robert Parker, USCG (Ret), Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, USN (Ret), Rear Admiral Jonathan White, USN (Ret) and Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, USA (Ret).
The Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG), a bipartisan group of fifty-four military, national security and foreign policy experts chaired by the Center for Climate and Security and the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, released a roadmap and recommendations titled A Responsibility to Prepare: Strengthening National and Homeland Security in the Face of a Changing Climate. The report calls on the Administration to follow the advice of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who asserted that a “whole-of-government response” to climate change is needed, not least as it is “impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.”
“Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has called for a whole-of-government response to climate change, joining a long list of defense and intelligence leaders going back to the George W. Bush Administration. This ‘responsibility to prepare’ report presents a roadmap for beginning to achieve that goal. – Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, Co-Presidents, The Center for Climate and Security
“Our nation’s military leaders recognize their responsibility to prepare our forces and bases for the climate risks affecting us today, from the rising sea levels at Norfolk/Hampton Roads VA to Parris Island SC– the Marines’ premier recruit training facility, to increased demand for our forces to respond to wildfires, floods, and hurricanes across the nation. This roadmap and recommendation are designed to help America’s military maintain their readiness by assessing and preparing for climate risks to our force and base structure.” – Sherri Goodman, Senior Advisor for International Security, The Center for Climate and Security
“There is an abundance of climate-related data that is of significant concern to our country’s national security. Numerous studies by retired military and national security officials have analyzed these data and concluded that, regardless of the cause, US government multi-agency action is needed now to mitigate these effects of an adversely changing climate.” – Admiral Frank “Skip” Bowman, Advisory Board, the Center for Climate and Security
The group’s report notes that given the threats of climate change identified by the defense, national security and intelligence communities, a rise in destructive climate-driven impacts on the U.S., and an increased capacity to foresee these risks, the U.S. government has a “Responsibility to Prepare” to address these challenges at home and abroad. Specifically, the group recommended that the Administration do so through three lines of effort: Assess, Prepare, and Support.
- Assess climate change risks to national and homeland security
Maintain and improve systems and processes for better understanding and assessing climate change risks to national and homeland security.
- Prepare for climate change risks to national and homeland security
Bolster the resilience of critical military and civilian infrastructure to climate change risks, and better organize and resource the U.S. government to manage those risks.
- Support allied and partner nation resilience to climate change risks
Maintain U.S. leadership by supporting allied and partner nation resilience to climate change risks in strategically-significant regions, and by reducing climate drivers of instability.
To watch the release event live at 9:30am EST on February 26, click here.
Watch a recorded video of the event:
See below for links to the full reports.
Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, 2nd Edition: www.climateandsecurity.org/militaryexpertpanel2018
CSAG Roadmap and Recommendations for the U.S. Government “A Responsibility to Prepare”: www.climateandsecurity.org/csagrecommendations2018
The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) is a non-partisan security policy institute with a distinguished Advisory Board of military, national security and foreign policy experts.