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Integrating Climate Change into the US Global Fragility Strategy: A New “Prologue”

By Erin Sikorsky

In early April, the Biden Administration released a “prologue” to the US Global Fragility Strategy, also known as the Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability. The initial document was developed under the Trump Administration in response to requirements in the Global Fragility Act (GFA). Congress passed the GFA in 2019 with bipartisan support, the goal of which was to create a new approach to preventing conflict in fragile states by bringing a whole of government, silo-busting strategy to foreign assistance and diplomacy. This type of coordinated, multi-sectoral process is exactly what is needed to ensure climate considerations are well integrated into US foreign policy, and the prologue takes two important steps forward in this direction.

First, the new prologue explicitly discusses the role of climate change in shaping state fragility and risks of conflict – a glaring omission in the original strategy. The document states:

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U.S. House Adaptation Hearings Offer Insights for Climate Security Action

By Elsa Barron

In early March, the U.S. House of Representatives hosted two hearings on climate adaptation in the United States. Given the current and future risks posed by climate change, including sea-level rise, intensifying natural disasters, and extreme temperatures, creating a plan to respond and adapt to climate change is crucial for ensuring security. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing titled Federal Climate Adaptation and Resilience for the 21st Century and the House Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing was named Confronting Climate Impacts: Federal Strategies for Equitable Adaptation and Resilience. These hearings closely followed the release of the IPCC Working Group II (WGII) report focused on climate impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. An analysis by the Center for Climate and Security on the WGII contribution notes that, “In the near-term, vulnerability and exposure of natural and human systems to climate-related risks will depend more on the actions taken to adapt, or lack thereof, than on climate hazards themselves.” Therefore, it is critical for all sectors of government to prepare for climate security impacts and prevent them from having their worst effects.

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HIGHLIGHTS: House Armed Services Committee Talks Climate Strategies and Resiliency 

By John Conger

On March 16, 2022, the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to discuss matters dealing with energy, installations, and environment at the Department of Defense. The witnesses were Paul Cramer, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations and Environment); Paul Farnan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment); Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment); and Ed Oshiba, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Energy, Installations, and Environment).  

While the subject of the hearing was broader than climate security, climate change policies played a central role in the discussion. Highlights included:

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Climate Security Elements of the America COMPETES Act 

By Elsa Barron

The America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength Act of 2022, or the America COMPETES Act,  passed in the House of Representatives on Friday. The bill is focused on U.S. competition with China and includes several provisions that acknowledge the risks posed by climate change and are designed to help the U.S. prepare for and respond to its impact on security and competitiveness. The inclusion of these provisions demonstrates an understanding of climate change as a shaping security threat and reflects many of the recommendations in our Climate Security Plan for America, released in 2019.

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