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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

SASC Force Readiness Hearing_2018_02_14

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…)

Senior Navy and Air Force Nominees on Climate Change

ConfHearing_Bayer_Henderson_2018_01_18In Questions for the Record (QFRs) submitted by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee to the Administration’s nominees for Assistant Secretary Of The Navy For Installations, Energy, And The Environment (Mrs. Phyllis L. Bayer) and Assistant Secretary Of The Air Force For Installations, Environment, And Energy (Mr. John Henderson), they were each asked a question on how they would address climate change-related risks to the Department of Defense. Both followed the lead of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has made some of the strongest statements of any Secretary of Defense on the need to address the security implications of climate change in his own responses to the QFRs. Below are Bayer’s and Henderson’s answers: (more…)

A Bipartisan Letter from Congress on Climate Change and National Security

U.s._capitolLed by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), a bipartisan group of 106 lawmakers released an extraordinary letter last week urging the President of the United States to reconsider omission of climate change as a security threat in its National Security Strategy, citing the words of sitting Secretary of Defense James Mattis to underline the issue’s importance. (more…)

Defense Bill Passes with Climate Change and National Security Provision

800px-United_States_Capitol_Building-_west_front_editUPDATE: The President signed the 2018 NDAA into law on December 12. A recognition of climate change as a direct threat to national security is now an official position of the Administration.

Every year since 1961, the U.S. Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act – or the NDAA, as it’s known in acronym-obsessed Washington. The bill essentially determines which agencies are responsible for defense, establishes funding levels, and sets policies under which money will be spent. Last week, the U.S. Congress passed the FY2018 NDAA, and sent it to the President for signature. He is expected to promptly sign it. Interestingly, this year’s NDAA, among many other things, says something loud and clear about climate change: there is a bipartisan majority in Congress that accepts climate change is a “direct threat” to national security, and that the Department of Defense (DoD) must have the authority to prepare for it.

In response, John Conger, Senior Policy Advisor with the Center for Climate and Security, noted in an interview with the Washington Examiner: (more…)