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Chronology of U.S. Military Leadership on Climate Change and Security: 2017-2018

James_Mattis_Official_SECDEF_PhotoOver the past twelve months, 12 senior officials at the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) have raised concerns about, and recommended actions to address, the security implications of climate change, both due to its effect on military infrastructure, readiness and operations, and its broader geostrategic implications for the United States.

This includes Secretary of Defense, James Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), Lucian L. Niemeyer; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, John Henderson; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson; and Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville. The DoD also produced a survey report on the matter in January of this year.

Below is a chronological list of written and verbal statements by these defense officials, as well as links to DoD reports and other government documents covering the climate-military nexus, that have been released during this Administration thus far. Each entry includes a link to its source. (more…)

New Pentagon Survey: Climate Change-Related Risks to 50% of Military Infrastructure

Firefighters_Air_Force_Academy_10th_Civil_Engineer_Squadron_Waldo_Canyon_fire

Firefighters w/ U.S. Air Force Academy’s 10th Civil Engineer Squadron in Colorado Springs prepare to deploy to defensive locations around the Academy, June 26, 2012.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics released a comprehensive new survey of climate change-related risks to military infrastructure worldwide. The study, prosaically titled “Climate-Related Risk to DoD Infrastructure Initial Vulnerability Assessment Survey (SLVAS) Report,” is a response to a Congressional request from 2016,* based on the DoD’s 2015 commitment to conducting a:

…global screening level assessment to determine installation vulnerabilities to climate-related security risks with the goal of identifying serious vulnerabilities and developing necessary adaptation strategies.

(more…)

Assistant Secretary of Defense Niemeyer: Climate Plays Pivotal Role in Military Mission

USS AlbanyOn July 18, 2017 the Senate Armed Services Committee held a confirmation hearing for Lucian L. Niemeyer, the next Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), who ultimately received unanimous support from the Committee. Mr. Niemeyer’s comments on climate change, both in written responses to advance policy questions, and during the hearing, supported the strong commitment Secretary of Defense James Mattis has made to addressing climate change-related risks to the U.S. military’s mission. Here is a link to the full hearing video (question and response on climate change begin at 1:04:00). Below is an excerpt from Mr. Niemeyer’s written answers to advance policy questions on climate change, and an excerpt from the hearing itself. (more…)

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Climate Instability and Political Instability

General_Paul_J._Selva,_USAF_(VJCS)During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on July 18, 2017, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva, gave a detailed description of the impact he understands climate change has (and will have) on the global operating environment in which the armed services operate, and the need for the Department of Defense to be prepared for the threat. Of particular note, he stated: “It will also cause us to have to focus on places where climate instability might cause actual political instability in regions of the world we hadn’t previously had to pay attention to.” That inspires us to shamelessly plug our recent report, “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene,” which explores a number of possible hot spots of the kind the General is referring to.

Below is both a full transcript of his comments, and a video of the exchange: (more…)

John Conger Joins The Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

John CongerThe Honorable John Conger is  the newest distinguished member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board. He is an independent consultant and President of Conger Strategies and Solutions, LLC.  He is also a non-resident senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mr. Conger previously served as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), from December 2015 to January 2017.  As principal deputy comptroller, Mr. Conger assisted the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) in the performance of his or her duties, provided advice to the Secretary of Defense on all budgetary and financial matters, including the development and execution of the Department’s annual budget of over $500 billion, and oversaw the Department’s efforts to achieve audit readiness. (more…)

Senior Military Leaders Talk Climate and National Security on Capitol Hill

On April 27th, the American Security Project (ASP) and the Center for Climate & Security (CCS) held a briefing on Capitol Hill highlighting climate change risks to military readiness and national security, as well as what Congress could do to help. The panel included Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board member, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret.), Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.), and Brigadier General David McGinnis USA (Ret.). The Center for Climate and Security’s Director of Government Affairs, Colonel Thomas Watson, USAF (Ret.), provided opening remarks, and the discussion was moderated by ASP’s Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate, Andrew Holland. For a short recap and a full video of the event, click here.

The Center for Climate and Security Welcomes New Advisory Board Members

C&S LOGOThe Center for Climate and Security is pleased to welcome four new distinguished members to its Advisory Board: Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, United States Navy, (Ret), Rear Admiral Leendert “Len” Hering Sr., United States Navy (Ret), Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips, United States Navy (Ret) and Joan D. B. VanDervort. Together, they have 126 years of experience serving the U.S. Department of Defense, and are four of the nation’s leading experts on climate change risks, energy systems, and how these interact with U.S. military infrastructure, force readiness, and the global operating environment. See each of their bios below. (more…)