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A Climate Security Plan for America Part 1: Demonstrate Leadership

By John Conger

Part 1 of 4 in the Climate Security Plan for America Blog Series

In late 2019, the Center for Climate and Security-led Climate Security Advisory Group, a group of senior U.S. national security and military experts, including eight retired four-star generals and admirals, published the A Climate Security Plan for America.  These leaders outlined a comprehensive plan to elevate climate change as a security priority and offered recommendations in four broad categories.  This blog discusses the first, Demonstrating Leadership.

As we stated in the report, we believed that in order to successfully counter climate security challenges, it must be an articulated priority of the U.S. President.  Check.  President-elect Biden has repeated often that he seeks to make climate change “a core national security priority.”  He named former Secretary Kerry as his “climate envoy” with a seat on the National Security Council.  For his own part, Secretary Kerry’s initial comments on his new role have focused on the security threat posed by climate change. 

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How to Prioritize Climate Change in U.S. National Security

By Kate Guy

From the outset of Joe Biden’s run for the American presidency, he pledged to look at national security with fresh eyes. Evolving systemic threats like climate change, often relegated to the portfolios of environmental experts and science agencies, were repeatedly mentioned in his plans to remake U.S. defense and foreign policy. “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” he often reiterated in the closing days of his campaign.

Now, with the first members of President-elect Biden’s national security team announced, it’s clear that he has taken the first steps to make good on these campaign promises. In the past few years, nominees like Blinken, Sullivan, and Haines have each referenced the need for the U.S. to prioritize addressing climate change in its approach to global challenges. And with the creation of a cabinet-level Presidential Climate Envoy, long-time climate security leader John Kerry will sit in every meeting of the National Security Council with his eye trained on climate threats.

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A Very Strong Signal: 5 Key Takeaways on John Kerry’s Climate Envoy Role and Seat on the National Security Council

By John Conger, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

On Monday, President-Elect Biden announced several members of his national security team.  They included Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, and… former Secretary of State John Kerry as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. While each of these announcements have positive implications for how climate change is addressed by the national security enterprise, let’s explore five key implications of this last announcement. 

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Takeaways from the U.S. House Oversight Hearing on Climate Security

Secretary Hagel_2019_4_09

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel discusses the national security risks of climate change before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, April 9, 2019

By John Conger

On April 9, the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosted a hearing on “The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security,” including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former Secretary of State John Kerry as witnesses.

Secretaries Hagel and Kerry recently signed a letter to President Trump urging him not to create a panel to second-guess military and intelligence expert judgments on climate change.

Moreover, the very day of the hearing, the Washington Post published a story noting that “As the White House questions climate change, the U.S. military is planning for it.” (more…)

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