By John Conger
On August 25, 2020 the U.S. Senate Democrats Special Committee on the Climate Crisis published The Case for Climate Action: Building a Clean Economy for the American People. Like the report put out by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in July, it lays out a case for climate action that invokes climate threats to national security among its supporting arguments.
The Senate report has two full chapters devoted to climate security – one on military readiness and one on international engagement.
The military readiness chapter (p. 154-162) outlines the ways climate change drives instability, the extreme weather threat it poses to military installations, and the increasing risks to military personnel created by extreme heat and water scarcity. Recommendations for action include increased resilience for military installations, investments in technology, reducing fossil fuel consumption and prioritizing interagency coordination.
The international engagement chapter (p. 163-174) leads with the ways in which climate change undermines international stability, and how it manifests differently across the globe. It invokes the concept of climate change as a threat multiplier, exacerbating existing challenges such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tension. The solutions part of this chapter includes recommendations on rejoining the Paris Agreement and recommitting ourselves to climate-minded development efforts, including the Green Climate Fund.
Many of the recommendations are echoed in the Climate Security Plan for America, which were developed and endorsed by dozens of security professionals from the Climate Security Advisory Group, including eight retired four-star generals and admirals. Some examples include:
- Endorsing the requirement for all military installations to conduct vulnerability assessments, to include examining the vulnerability of neighboring communities upon which they depend (CSPA 2.2)
- Recommitting to the Paris Agreement (CSPA 1.13)
- Ensuring USAID funds aimed at fragile nations are informed by climate considerations (CSPA 3.2)
- Increaseing international investments in climate resilience (CSPA 3.4)
- Increasing international investment in R&D targeted toward lower emissions (CSPA 3.5)