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New US Intelligence Community Reports Focus on Climate and Ecological Security Risks

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Haines-and-Harris-1024x682.jpg
Vice President Kamala Harris swears in Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jan, 21, 2021 (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

In two new publicly-available, unclassified reports, the US Director of National Intelligence makes clear the critical role climate change and ecological degradation are playing in shaping the US national security landscape, both in the near term and long term. While the US intelligence community has long warned of the threats posed by climate change, the new Global Trends report and the latest Annual Threat Assessment are some of the sharpest, most detailed, and urgent warnings to date.

Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World

The quadrennial Global Trends report assesses the key trends and uncertainties that will form the strategic environment for the United States during the next two decades. This year’s report identifies environment and climate change as a “structural force” that, along with technological change, demographics and human development, and economics, will set the parameters of the future. The report gives more pages over to climate and environment issues than any previous Global Trends, noting, “During the next 20 years, the physical effects from climate change of higher temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather events will impact every country. The costs and challenges will disproportionately fall on the developing world, intersecting with environmental degradation to intensify risks to food, water, health, and energy security.”

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The Center for Climate and Security Applauds the Biden Administration’s Executive Actions on Climate Change

The Center for Climate and Security applauds President Biden’s Executive Orders (EO) on climate change released today, including the EO specifically addressing climate threats to national security titled  “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”  This EO devotes a significant section (1.3) to climate security, following through on many of the policy proposals made in the President’s campaign plan, and reflecting recommendations the Center for Climate and Security made in its “Climate Security Plan for America.”

As we noted after the election last November, President Biden committed to making climate change a core national security priority. This EO begins to make that commitment a reality, noting that climate considerations are an “essential element” of all U.S. foreign and national security policy – signaling a major and unprecedented elevation of the issue.  It builds on the President’s appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry to be his Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (a position with a seat on the National Security Council, established in the EO), and the creation of a Senior Director for Climate and Energy at the National Security Council  – actions that together go well beyond the Obama Administration’s actions on climate security.  

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The Center for Climate and Security Welcomes Erin Sikorsky as Deputy Director

The Center for Climate and Security, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), is delighted to welcome Erin Sikorsky as its new Deputy Director, and Director of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). Previously, Ms. Sikorsky served as the Deputy Director of the Strategic Futures Group on the US National Intelligence Council (NIC), where she co-authored the quadrennial Global Trends report and led the US intelligence community’s environmental and climate security analysis. She is also the founding chair of the Climate Security Advisory Council, a Congressionally-mandated group designed to facilitate coordination between the intelligence community and US government scientific agencies on climate security matters. Ms. Sikorsky worked in the US intelligence community for over a decade. Prior to joining the NIC, she led teams covering a range of issues related to the Middle East and Africa. Ms. Sikorsky earned a Master of International Affairs at Columbia University, and a B.A. in government from Smith College. 

Ms. Sikorsky brings an incredible depth of experience and expertise on climate security to the Center for Climate and Security, and we could not be more thrilled to work with her.

The Center for Climate and Security on CBS News: Suppression of Climate Change Analysis by the White House

CCS research featured on CBS News – October 23, 2020

By Kate Guy

On October 22, Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) Advisory Board Member Dr. Rod Schoonover was featured in a CBS News segment discussing the severe security impacts posed by climate change. The segment, which aired ahead of the final 2020 U.S. Presidential Debate, highlighted the global security threats that a warming climate will exacerbate, and also featured cutting-edge analysis by the Center for Climate and Security

Climate insecurities “come in compounded effects, not isolated effects,” explained Dr. Schoonver to CBS News, including “direct harm from extreme events, water stress, food insecurity, erosion of econo life, loss of residences and property, and risk to human health.”

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