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Hill Briefing: Climate Change and the Risks to National Security

800px-United_States_Capitol_Building-_west_front_editOn April 27th, senior military and national security experts Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret.), Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.), and Brigadier General David McGinnis, USA (Ret.) will discuss military planning for climate change and how Congress can support the Department of Defense in preparing for a changing climate. Our military prepares for a range of threats to America’s national security: from state-to-state wars to terrorism, disaster response to stability operations. Climate change, by changing the environment in which the military operates, will affect all aspects of the military’s planning. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently affirmed, the military knows that preparation and risk management are appropriate measures to reducing such threats. Join the American Security Project and the Center for Climate and Security on April 27th at 1:00PM in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room SD-419. RSVP to

On the Record: Climate as a Security Risk According to U.S. Administration Officials

James_Mattis_Official_SECDEF_PhotoUnder both Republican and Democratic Administrations, senior U.S. military, national security and foreign policy leaders have recognized the security risks of climate change, and urged a response that is commensurate to the threat. In this context, The Center for Climate and Security has created a new page, On The Record, on its Climate Security 101 Project website compiling key statements on the issue from current and past military, national security and foreign policy leaders. This is not a complete list, but it is a good reminder that climate change is far more than just an environmental concern. (more…)

Why and how to use foresight tools to manage climate security risks

448px-Risk_LegacyBy Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs

The Planetary Security Initiative and the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) have recently co-published a policy brief titled “Why and how to use foresight tools to manage climate security risks.” The brief relates to the Working Group on foresight tools CCS organized at the 2016 Planetary Security Conference.

Assessing climate security risks can be challenging, as there are significant and multi-faceted uncertainties involved. For practitioners looking for conceptual approaches to understanding and evaluating such risks, foresight tools offer a practical toolset for formulating robust responses, even in the context of significant uncertainty.

The Center for Climate and Security Welcomes New Advisory Board Members

C&S LOGOThe Center for Climate and Security is pleased to welcome four new distinguished members to its Advisory Board: Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, United States Navy, (Ret), Rear Admiral Leendert “Len” Hering Sr., United States Navy (Ret), Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips, United States Navy (Ret) and Joan D. B. VanDervort. Together, they have 126 years of experience serving the U.S. Department of Defense, and are four of the nation’s leading experts on climate change risks, energy systems, and how these interact with U.S. military infrastructure, force readiness, and the global operating environment. See each of their bios below. (more…)

Responsibility to Prepare: A Whole of Government Approach to Climate Security

SouthPorticoIn excerpts from Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee (responses to follow-up “questions for the record”), the Secretary stressed the need for the United States to take a whole of government approach to climate change.  His quote in full:

As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.

As climate change impacts all facets of society, it makes sense for the Secretary of Defense to suggest that a range of departments and agencies across the U.S. government should work together to respond to it. Leaving the issue siloed within one department or another would leave the United States fundamentally unprepared to adequately manage and prepare for the problem. If one agrees that a core function of the U.S. government is to protect its citizens and its critical institutions from physical harm, then it can be argued that the U.S. government has a “responsibility to prepare” for climate change risks to national security. (more…)

Colonel Tom Watson Joins The Center for Climate and Security Team

TomWatsonThe Center for Climate and Security is delighted to announce that Colonel Thomas F. Watson, United States Air Force (Retired), has joined the Center’s team as Director of Government Affairs, where he is responsible for engaging the U.S. government on issues of climate and national security. Prior to joining the Center, he served as the Senior Project Lead for Climate Adaptation and Critical Infrastructure in the Cross-Sector Integration and Innovation Center in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate. In this position, Colonel Watson was responsible for leading the national efforts on climate adaptation issues impacting critical infrastructure including improving owner/operator awareness, information sharing, mitigation strategies, and best practices. (more…)

G20 Policy Brief on Climate and Displacement


Syrian refugee center, Turkish border (3 August 2012)

By Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs

The Center for Climate and Security recently contributed to and co-signed a policy brief for the G20 on ‘Building Global Governance for ‘Climate Refugees’’. The brief was produced as a part of the Think20 (T20) dialogue process leading up to the G20 Summit in Hamburg on 7-8 July. The T20 is a network of think tanks that act as a research and policy advice network for the G20; its Think 20 Summit – GLOBAL SOLUTIONS will be hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on 29-30 May, one of several civil society dialogue forums leading up to the G20 Summit. (more…)