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Release: Political and Military Leaders Demonstrate Bipartisan Agreement on Preparing Virginia for Climate Change Threats

Agenda Image_2018_07_09Event: Preparing for a Climate Changed Future: Navigating the Impacts on our Military and Coastal Communities
Date: July 9, 2018
Time: 10:00am-2pm (Livestream available here)
Location: William & Mary, Sadler Center, Williamsburg, VA
Hosts: The Center for Climate and Security, the William & Mary Virginia Coastal Policy Center, and the William & Mary Whole of Government Center of Excellence
Agenda and Speakers:  Here.

Williamsburg, VA – The effects of climate change on national security are already being felt directly by civilians and military forces stationed in coastal Virginia. This unavoidable reality has brought together civilian and military communities in the commonwealth, as well as Republican and Democratic policy-makers, to urgently discuss solutions at an event in Williamsburg, VA today, convened by the Center for Climate and Security, the William & Mary Virginia Coastal Policy Center, and the William & Mary Whole of Government Center of Excellence.

In advance of the event, Republican Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rob Wittman (VA-01) and Scott Taylor (VA-02), and Democratic Senators Tim Kaine (VA) and Mark Warner (VA) each issued letters in support of actions to address climate change risks to military and civilian communities in Virginia. From the letters:

“Rising sea levels pose risks not only to military operations and military readiness, but to our communities and way of life. They impact trade, naval shipping and many other aspects of our daily lives…Caring for and defending the environment from rising sea levels is an important first step to protecting our nation.”U.S. Congressman Robert Wittman (R-VA-01)

“As a Congressman representing the people and interests of Virginia’s 2nd District, I am
inherently aware of the dangers climate change and sea-level rise pose to Hampton Roads, the area’s infrastructure, housing, industries, businesses and military installations.” – U.S. Congressman Scott Taylor (R-VA-02)

“Virginia coastal residents know that climate change is a today issue, not a tomorrow issue. From century-old tide gauges in Norfolk Harbor to modern statistical models, the trends are undeniable. Sea levels are rising. Floodplains are expanding. Extreme storms and floods are becoming more frequent and more violent. And the effects are felt from military installations like Naval Station Norfolk to cities like Norfolk and Virginia Beach to rural areas like the Eastern Shore. We must heed these indicators and take decisive steps to make our infrastructure more resilient.” – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)

Senior retired military leaders speaking at the event also weighed in, noting the broad array of risks to national security and the military mission posed by climate change, and arguing for a “Responsibility to Prepare.”

“Sea Level Rise and extreme weather adaptation and resilience for the Military and Coastal Communities 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. The threat is real – and while DoD and Coastal Communities both take their respective ‘responsibility to prepare’ seriously – neither can do it alone, and they have no time to waste.” – Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips, US Navy (Ret), Advisory Board Member, The Center for Climate and Security, former Director of Surface Warfare, Chief of Naval Operations Staff

“Hampton Roads represents not only one of the greatest concentrations of military power in the Nation, but some of its most vulnerable terrain when it comes to climate change impacts.  If we are going to protect our forces in this region, we need to come together and start planning now, before a challenge becomes a crisis.”John Conger, Director, the Center for Climate and Security, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment

The event builds on the Center for Climate and Security’s recently-issued Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, 2nd Edition, which finds that sea level rise already poses a significant risk to coastal military installations and their surrounding communities, and that the Hampton Roads region of Virginia is particularly vulnerable (see here for a Fact Sheet on the implications for Virginia military installations).  The first panel, Mission Melting Arctic: The Effects of a Changing Climate on Maritime Security will present the geostrategic and operational impact of a melting Arctic, especially on forces and maritime security organizations in Virginia.  The second panel, The Water’s Cutting Edge: Creative Responses to the Security Risks of Rising Seas will focus on the risks presented by sea level rise, and new ideas and ways for communities, states, and the military to work together to mitigate these risks. For a full agenda, click here.



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.

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