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Looking to 2022: Next Steps for US Climate Security Policy 

By Brigitte Hugh

“We’re really on a good path to mainstreaming climate and security…and that’s a major accomplishment,” said Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist at the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), during a recent CCS event. The event was about taking stock of the US government’s progress toward implementing President Biden’s Executive Orders on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration while also looking ahead to the National Defense Strategy (NDS) and National Security Strategy (NSS) which will be released in 2022. “You have to do the thinking and planning ahead of time before we start acting,” said John Conger, Senior Advisor to the Center for Climate and Security. 

“A shared concept of climate risk is going to be critical for all the agencies getting on the same page,” said Tegan Blaine, Senior Advisor on environment and conflict at the U.S. Institute of Peace. One key to that effort explored during the event wasa climate-literate federal workforce. Rod Schoonover, Head of the Ecological Security Program at CSR’s Converging Risks Lab, emphasized this theme, noting that “putting science first matters for the security community as well,” and as such a climate-literate workforce should include people who are cross-trained in security and science. 

Looking forward, each panelist identified what they will be watching for on climate security from the Biden Administration in 2022 . For Schoonover, progress would look like a federal workforce that “integrates climate security” broadly, and not just in the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community. Goodman would like to see “some specific war games and modelling exercises that the military can talk about with the public.” Conger said, “There are things that are climate informed that we should be doing with the money we have now.” In the same vein, Blaine “Need[s] to see money towards direct actions. Until there are specific actions that are being funded, then it’s a lot of talk.” “Longer term threats require action now,” continued Blaine, and “early action can offset some of the climate risks for the United States in the future.”

You can find a full recording of the event below: 

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