By John Conger
A lot is happening on the climate and security front in the U.S. Congress. This is unsurprising, given the continued attention to the security risks of climate change from the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, as well as a persistent message from the national security community outside government about the importance of addressing this growing threat. Below are descriptions of two Congressional actions in the past week alone, as well as one on the horizon (well, tomorrow).
March 13: Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness will be holding a hearing titled “Ensuring Resiliency of Military Installations and Operations in Response to Climate Changes.” The hearing will feature testimony from retired Rear Admiral David W. Titley, U.S. Navy (full disclosure: he’s a Senior Member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board and a Member of the Board of Directors at the Council on Strategic Risks, our parent organization). He will be joined by the Honorable Sharon Burke, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy at the Department of Defense, and Nicolas Loris at the Center for Free Markets and Regulatory Reform.
March 12. In response to the National Security Council’s proposed “climate panel,” and referencing the letter released by the Center for Climate and Security and the American Security Project last week, 10 Senators from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) introduced a bill today called “The Climate Security Act of 2019.” The act sets out – unsurprisingly given its prosaic name – to address the security implications of climate change, including its geopolitical, economic and environmental dimensions. According to the announcement, key provisions of the bill include:
- Establishing a “Climate Security Envoy” within the State Department responsible for developing strategies for improving the integration of climate change science, data and forecasting in national security operations as well as facilitating interagency collaboration between the federal government’s science and security agencies.
- Outlining policies for how climate change data and forecasting should inform national security planning and analysis, while calling for periodic global assessments on the risks climate change poses to national and global security.
- Formally reestablishing the Special Envoy for the Arctic. The Arctic region is undergoing rapid and dramatic changes due to climate change, which in turn is creating new security challenges, driven by aggressive expansion of Russian influence and naval activity in the region that requires specials attention from the State Department in the form of this Special Envoy. President Trump dismantled the Special Envoy to the Arctic’s office in 2017.
March 7. Also in response to reports of the William Happer-led NSC climate panel, Senators introduced a bill to “prohibit the use of funds to Federal agencies to establish a panel, task force, advisory committee, or other effort to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change, and for other purposes.” Read the current bill language (which is very short and to the point) here.
Watch this space for more.