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RELEASE: The Climate and Security Advisory Group Grades Biden Administration on Climate Security 

Challenge Accepted, a new report issued by 79 senior national security experts recognizes the prioritization of climate change in the Administration’s security plans, but states it’s time to move from plans to bolder and more concrete action.

On March 31, 2022, seventy-nine senior military, national security and intelligence leaders of the Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG), an extraordinary group chaired by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) in partnership with the Elliott School of International Affairs, released “Challenge Accepted: A Progress Report on the Climate Security Plan for America and Recommendations for the Way Ahead.”  This report assesses progress against the recommendations made by the Climate Security Advisory Group in 2019, many of which were incorporated into the current administration’s security plans.

The non-partisan group, which includes 8 retired 4-star generals and admirals, a former Director of National Intelligence, a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a former NASA Administrator, and many other retired military officers, security officials and experts, has assessed the progress made since the publication of the original report.

“As the eyes of the security community are, deservedly, focused on the war in Ukraine, it’s important to recognize that the security community can – and must – be able to deal with multiple challenges at once,” said Sherri Goodman, Chairwoman of the Board of the Council on Strategic Risks – CCS’s parent organization.  “China remains the pacing threat, and climate change is a threat multiplier that will amplify many threats and make others harder to manage.”

“We are deeply appreciative of the way this Administration, members of Congress in both parties, and the uniformed services have prioritized the threat that climate change poses to national security,” said Erin Sikorsky, Director of CCS, “But we call this report Challenge Accepted because it’s important to see this as more of a job well begun than a job well done.”

The original 2019 report included recommendations under four pillars of action – Demonstrate Leadership; Assess Climate Risks; Support Allies and Partners; and Prepare for and Prevent Climate Impacts.  Challenge Accepted assesses progress in each of these areas and offers new recommendations for the Administration going forward. Both reports were produced with generous support from the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.

The Progress Report

The CSAG assessed that the Administration has truly demonstrated leadership in prioritizing the implications of climate change on national security and met 9 of the 13 recommendations it offered in the first pillar of its original report.  While the CSAG saw progress in the other three pillars (Assess Climate Risks; Support Allies and Partners; and Prepare for and Prevent Climate Impacts), its recommendations were generally not fully achieved.  The bottom line is that the plans and priorities have been positive, but there is a lot yet to do.

Recommendations

Looking forward to the coming years, the CSAG built on its previous recommendations in each of the CSPA’s four pillars.  Recommendations included:

  • Resource the Administration’s Ambition: Ensure there is funding for the climate efforts in the ambitious plans published in the Administration’s first year;
  • Emphasize Transparency: Publish clear metrics against which progress will be measured;
  • Improve Forecasting of Disasters: Invest in Earth system science, data collection and climate forecasting models, including at the seasonal and subseasonal timeframes;
  • Mainstream Climate Security within the State Department: Incorporate climate impacts into agency strategies and policies, including Integrated Country Strategies;
  • Invest in Security Infrastructure: Increase investment in security infrastructure to bolster resilience, especially since DoD was left out of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; and
  • Create a National Adaptation Plan: Initiate an overarching plan ensuring that federal investments and activities contribute to future resilience.

“This report has a clear conclusion that resonates throughout the document,” said John Conger, Director Emeritus of CCS.  “The Administration gets credit for saying all the right things and for making climate change an essential element of national security and foreign policy, but now it’s time to take the next step.  To get full credit, they have to move from words to deeds.  Otherwise, they’re just admiring the problem.”

Read the full report: Here

Direct inquiries to: Francesco Femia, ffemia at climateandsecurity dot org, +1-571-263-5691

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