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EVENT: Building Climate Resilience at Home – Preparing for and Preventing the Security Impacts of Climate Change

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The fourth panel in our series, “Planning for the First 100 Days and Beyond”

May 12, 2021 1 PM -3 PM ET

Click here to register.

This virtual event hosted by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, is the third in our series looking at actions the Biden Administration can take on climate security in its first 100 days and beyond. Building Climate Resilience at Home focuses on the fourth and final pillar of the Climate Security Plan for America (published by CCS and endorsed by dozens of military, foreign policy and intelligence experts, including eight retired four-star generals and admirals), which urges investments in resilient infrastructure, resilient forces, and prevention initiatives. The panel will react to the new Biden Administration budget request and the specific programs they should embrace to prepare for, and to prevent, climate impacts.

Panelists will include:

  • John Conger, Director, Center for Climate and Security and former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)
  • Alice Hill, Senior Fellow for Climate Change Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; Governing Board, Council on Strategic Risks
  • RADM (USN, Ret) Ann Phillips, Special Assistant to the Governor of Virginia for Coastal Adaptation and Protection; Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security
  • Joan Vandervort, former DoD Deputy Director for Ranges, Sea and Airspace; Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security

Click here to RSVP. If you have any questions or need more information, email: events@climateandsecurity.org

For videos of our first three events in this series, see below:

Climate Change: A Core National Security Priority (Dec 15, 2020)

Unprecedented Foresight: Improving Climate Security Risk Assessments (Jan 28, 2021)

Building Climate Resilience Abroad: Helping Partners and Allies with Climate Security Risks (Mar 29, 2021)

Security Highlights from the Leaders Summit on Climate

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U.S. President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. kicks off the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate in Washington, D.C., on April 22, 2021. 

By Erin Sikorsky

Last week’s Leaders Summit on Climate made history for many reasons — because of the number of new commitments on cutting emissions, its virtual nature, the focus on environmental justice, and that climate security was included at a level never before seen on the global stage. The big news out of the summit was President Biden’s announcement of a new target for the United States to achieve a 50 to 52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030. This step is in line with our call in the 2019 A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change for “the world to achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible in a manner that is ambitious, safe, equitable, and well governed, in order to avoid severe and catastrophic security futures.”

More specific to climate security risks already underway, US Secretary of Defense Austin led a session focused on identifying climate security risks and reiterating existing promises for combating them. While this administration has done more than any other towards elevating climate security as a foreign policy priority, it’s now time to move from talk to action–toward realigning priorities, strategies and missions to meet the climate security threat. The discussion led by Secretary Austin revealed multiple pathways to do so — and an international community that welcomes US leadership on the topic. Three of the key takeaways on which to build are as follows:

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A Climate Security Plan for America Part 3: Support Allies and Partners

By Erin Sikorsky

Part 3 of 4 in the Climate Security Plan for America blog series

See part 1, “Demonstrate Leadership,” here and part 2, “Assess Climate Risks,” here

As the Presidentially-mandated deadline approaches for US foreign policy agencies to integrate climate change into their regional and country strategies, it is a perfect moment to examine the recommendations in part 3 of our Climate Security Plan for America: Supporting Allies and Partners. The Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad tasked all agencies that “engage in extensive international work” to develop within 90 days “strategies and implementation plans for integrating climate considerations into their international work.” The EO was signed on 27 January, so the due date for the plans is April 27, just a few days after the US-led Earth Day Leaders Summit on climate change. 

Why is supporting U.S. allies and partners in building resilience to climate security threats so important? As the pandemic has shown, when it comes to transnational, actorless threats, we’re all in this together. Climate change vulnerabilities in other states can affect US national security directly or indirectly — whether by straining the governments of key allies and partners, creating openings for violent non-state actors to gain traction, or contributing to drivers of conflict and instability. Even developed countries are likely to need more assistance in developing resilience strategies in the coming years, as communities barely have time to recover from one shock when the next one hits. For example, just last week Australia saw record-breaking floods hit areas still recovering from last year’s record-breaking wildfires.

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Climate Change in U.S. National Security Strategies under Obama, Trump and Biden

By Dr. Marc Kodack

As the Biden administration’s national security team ramps up efforts to incorporate climate change and its effects into their agencies and policies, work will begin on crafting a new National Security Strategy (NSS). To guide national security decision-making while the full strategy is drafted, President Biden has released interim national security strategic guidance (here). With the availability of this guidance we can compare and contrast how President Biden plans to address climate change and national security with how these issues were tackled in Obama and Trump National Security Strategies published in 2015 and 2017, respectively. In short, the Obama and Biden strategic guidance is strong on climate security (with Biden’s being especially robust), while the Trump NSS was almost entirely silent on the subject. Below is a detailed review.

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