By John Conger
In the final version of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress included multiple important climate security provisions that will significantly increase Department of Defense (DoD) installations’ resilience to climate change. This continues a tradition of bipartisan cooperation on including climate change provisions in the NDAA, including during the last and current Congress (including the FY2018 NDAA, which identified climate change as a “direct threat” to national security. This year’s bill includes a number of significant steps forward, such as funding for climate resilience projects, and the creation of a Climate and Security Council within the Intelligence Community (a long-standing priority for the Center for Climate and Security). Below is a summary of the climate security provisions in the final version of the NDAA.
Incorporation of Military Installation Resilience into Installation Master Plans, specifically to assess vulnerabilities both to installations and surrounding communities, identify missions that would be affected by those vulnerabilities, and propose projects to address those vulnerabilities. (Sec 2801a)
Direction to Create of a Permanent General Authority to Execute Military Construction Projects, which is unusual in that MILCON projects generally require individual authorizations before they can be pursued. (Sec 2801b)
Creation of a Dedicated Budget Line Item for Adaptation to Extreme Weather. (Sec 328)
Requirement for Improved Building Codes, called Unified Facilities Criteria in DoD, to promote resilience in new construction. (Sec 2804)
Requirement for use of the Navy’s Climate Change Installation Adaptation and Resilience planning handbook by the entire DoD, ensuring that guidance is available for all installation officials that want to pursue resilience measures. (Sec 2804)
Extension of Restrictions on Construction in Floodplains to cover projected sea level rise over the projected life of a building. (Sec 2806)
Direction to Create a Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Tool by DoD, to inform mitigation planning and infrastructure development. (Sec 326)
Direction to DoD to Consider Sites for a Strategic Port in the Arctic, with a report due in 180 days. (Sec 1752)
These provisions set the DoD up to make important progress in the years ahead to make its installations resilient to climate change. They establish the planning and guidance processes that are necessary prerequisites for building the large numbers of resilience projects that will be needed in the future.
Funding for Climate Resilience Projects: The bill also provides some funding to address climate change concerns. Specifically, it includes a $49 million project at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to increase the height of floodwalls around its drydocks, driven by sea-level rise concerns, and authorizes $150 million for the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, which addresses projects at multiple locations. Much greater investments in climate resilience will be needed in the future, but this is an encouraging start.
Creation of a Climate and Security Council in the Intelligence Community: Finally, the bill incorporated the Intelligence Authorization Act, which included a provision that Creates a Climate and Security Council within the Intelligence Community to ensure that intelligence analysis is informed by the best possible science and projections (Sec 5321). This is highly consistent with the Center for Climate and Security’s recommendation, in its CSAG Climate Security Plan for America, for a Climate Security Crisis Watch Center, led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to facilitate an annual interagency assessment, drawing from analysis across the intelligence community and beyond, of the risks that climate change poses to U.S. national security.
In conclusion, the FY2020 NDAA includes some of the most robust provisions on climate security that we have seen to date. This bodes well for the future of enhanced climate resilience in the United States.
To read the full NDAA, click here.