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A Very Strong Signal: 5 Key Takeaways on John Kerry’s Climate Envoy Role and Seat on the National Security Council

By John Conger, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

On Monday, President-Elect Biden announced several members of his national security team.  They included Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, and… former Secretary of State John Kerry as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. While each of these announcements have positive implications for how climate change is addressed by the national security enterprise, let’s explore five key implications of this last announcement. 


U.S. Department of Defense: Funding Available for Environmental Research and Development

ALEXANDRIA, VA, November 4, 2020—The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is seeking to fund environmental research and development in the Resource Conservation and Resiliency program area.  SERDP invests across the broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced technology development.  The development and application of innovative environmental technologies will reduce the costs, environmental risks, and time required to resolve environmental problems while, at the same time, enhancing and sustaining military readiness.


How Federal Climate Change Actions and Inactions on Food Security Affect the Department of Defense

Marc Kodack PhotoBy Dr. Marc Kodack

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has an interest in what other federal agencies are doing to address climate change risks in their programs because some of these programs assist DoD in lowering its’ current and future deployment and operational risks, including risks to the health and well-being of its force. This is particularly the case regarding climate change impacts on food security.

In this context, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) conducted a broad review of climate change adaptation programs across the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last summer that included (but was not limited to) food security, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audited the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on how USAID reports direct and indirect climate change adaptation actions. (more…)

BRIEFER: Connecting Nuclear and Climate Policy in the Biden Administration

Over the past four years, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) has operated a working group to examine the convergence of two of the world’s greatest challenges: nuclear threats and climate change. Whether countries significantly expand reliance on nuclear energy to help address the climate crisis—or whether they pivot away from nuclear energy—either pathway will have a profound impact on future nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation trends. The strength and contours of international political will to aggressively address the climate crisis will in turn shape nuclear trends. 

Read the briefer here.

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