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Sherri Goodman and Vice Admiral McGinn Testify Before House Foreign Affairs Committee

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By John Conger

The Honorable Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist with the Center for Climate and Security and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security), and Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, US Navy (Retired), Member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board and former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy and Environment, testified Tuesday morning (April 2, 2019) before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “How Climate Change Threatens U.S. National Security.”  They were joined by Mr. Paul Weisenfeld, Executive Vice President for International Development of RTI International and Mr. Barry Worthington, Executive Director of the United States Energy Association. There was general bipartisan agreement on the security risks of climate change, and more to debate on the solutions. (more…)

Climate Security Consensus Breaks into the Open

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The Center for Climate and Security’s Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret) testifies before the House Armed Services Committee – March 13, 2019

By John Conger

The House Armed Services Committee bore public witness to the growing consensus between Democrats and Republicans on supporting the military’s response to climate change, during a Readiness Subcommittee hearing titled “Ensuring Resiliency of Military Installations and Operations in Response to Climate Changes.”

Chairman Garamendi’s opening statement outlined a series of concerns:

Just this last year Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused billions of dollars in damage to Camp Lejeune and leveled much of Tyndall Air Force Base.  California wildfires led to the evacuation of family housing at Camp Pendleton, Naval Air Station Point Mugu, and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center. In addition, our coastal installations and their surrounding communities are already experiencing significant flooding due to sea-level rise. The Army’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific is threatened by sea level rise and may not last 20 years. The Navy’s principal Atlantic Base Norfolk/Hampton Rhodes and the Naval Academy are already experiencing flooding. Melting polar ice in Arctic regions has already opened new sea routes and competition for resources, yet it appears that DOD has not developed a systematic strategy for ensuring U.S. national interests in the Arctic.

(more…)

Climate and Security in the U.S. Congress: March 7-13

800px-United_States_Capitol_Building-_west_front_editBy John Conger

A lot is happening on the climate and security front in the U.S. Congress. This is unsurprising, given the continued attention to the security risks of climate change from the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, as well as a persistent message from the national security community outside government about the importance of addressing this growing threat. Below are descriptions of two Congressional actions in the past week alone, as well as one on the horizon (well, tomorrow).

March 13: Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness will be holding a hearing titled “Ensuring Resiliency of Military Installations and Operations in Response to Climate Changes.” The hearing will feature testimony from retired Rear Admiral David W. Titley, U.S. Navy (full disclosure: he’s a Senior Member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board and a Member of the Board of Directors at the Council on Strategic Risks, our parent organization). He will be joined by the Honorable Sharon Burke, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy at the Department of Defense, and Nicolas Loris at the Center for Free Markets and Regulatory Reform. (more…)

Briefer: The Pentagon’s Forthcoming Climate Report – What to Expect and How Congress Should Use It

CSAG Briefer_2018_11_6In February 2018, the Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG) issued a report titled “A Responsibility to Prepare – Strengthening National and Homeland Security in the Face of a Changing Climate” which included a series of recommendations for the U.S. government.  Among its recommendations, the CSAG supported Congressional direction in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to assess vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change.  In that assessment, Congress directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to identify the ten installations per military service that are most vulnerable to climate change. That report is due on December 12, 2018.

Today, a little less than a month before that deadline, the CSAG is publishing a briefer offering context, advice and recommendations to Congress and the DoD regarding this report, and next steps on assessing and preparing for climate change risks to the nation’s military. Click here for the full report.

Forecast: Climate Change and Security in the 116th Congress

Rain_on_Capitol_HillBy John Conger

One of the most tangible successes on climate change during the 115th U.S. Congress was the firm establishment of a bipartisan consensus that climate change is a direct threat to national security.  In fact, Congress voted in 2017 to say exactly that and the President signed the bill into law.  Senior military officials echoed this sentiment on multiple occasions, but the Department of Defense has been cognizant of the risks it faces from climate change for many years. So what does all this mean for the 116th Congress? Here are three initial observations. (more…)

Lawmakers to Pentagon: Keep climate change and security in your sights 

800px-United_States_Capitol_Building-_west_front_editBy John Conger

As reported by The Military Times, a bipartisan group of 40 lawmakers recently wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis reinforcing Congressional intent when it comes to reporting on climate change: namely that when Congress asks for a report on climate change, they intend for it to at least mention the term.

Their concern was stoked by a recent Washington Post report that alleged the Administration had stripped a number of references to climate change out of a report (dubbed SLVAS) detailing the impacts of climate on DoD installations worldwide.  The final SLVAS report, though it only includes one reference to climate change (page 9), indicated that more than half of DoD bases had seen increases in adverse weather impacts.  (more…)

Hearing: Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Leadership All Highlight Climate Change Risks to Military Readiness

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General Glenn Walters, USMC and General Stephen Wilson, USAF, during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing “Current Readiness of U.S. Forces,” Feb 14, 2018

Last Wednesday, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on “Current Readiness of the U.S. Forces,” senior leadership from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all highlighted climate change-related risks to their respective military installations, and force readiness, in a very substantive and illuminating exchange with Senator Tim Kaine.

The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters, and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran, both warned of serious sea level rise threats to critical Marine and Navy installations, citing a shared status as  “waterfront organizations.” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson, and Army Vice Chief of Staff General James McConville, noted rising threats from forest fires, floods and hurricanes, including to energy resiliency across their bases. Below is both a summary and full transcript of those statements, as well as a link to the hearing video (exchange with Senator Kaine begins at 01:07:40). (more…)