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Climate Change Remains a Consistent Theme at Shangri-La Security Dialogue

U.S._Japan_and_Australian_Trilateral_meeting_Shangri-La 2018

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis meets with Australian Minister of Defense, Senator Marise Payne and Japanese Minister of Defense, Itsunori Onodera, at Shangri-La Dialogue, June 2, 2018. (DoD Photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

By Steve Tebbe, Policy Associate

When Florence Parly, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, called to “disarm the climate” at this year’s IISS Shangri-La Dialogue (17th Asia Security Summit), it helped exemplify how seriously the summit’s panelists were taking the security risks of climate change. The Dialogue continued the pattern of recent Shangri-La Dialogues and other security conferences, with a range of leading defense ministers and practitioners speaking on how the changing climate has impacted their security.

Asia-Pacific defense ministers, military and civilian staff gather in Shangri-La every year to discuss the trends and threats in Indo-Pacific regional security. News outlets have covered the emphasis on ASEAN terrorism, the Korean Peninsula, and emphasized the Indo-Pacific space across the Dialogue. However, climate security was included in a number of speaker’s talks this year, including Minister Parly, Ron Mark, the Minister of Defence of New Zealand, and Philip Barton, the Director-General for Consular and Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK. In the Sixth Special Session focusing on regional security cooperation, Vice Admiral Hervé de Bonnaventure, the Acting Director-General of International Relations and Strategy at the French Ministry of the Armed Forces noted that he believes climate directly changes military operations: (more…)

Defense Department Reaffirms That Climate Change Is A National Security Issue

James_Mattis_Official_SECDEF_PhotoNotably though unsurprisingly, due to consistent expressions of concern about climate change from senior defense leaders over the past year, the Department of Defense (DoD) on Sunday reaffirmed its stance on the growing national security risks associated with a changing climate. In a statement to the Washington Times, DoD spokesperson Heather Babb noted:

The effects of a changing climate continue to be a national security issue with potential impacts to missions, operational plans and installations…DOD has not changed its approach on ensuring installations and infrastructure are resilient to a wide range of challenges, including climate and other environmental considerations.

The article also quotes the Center for Climate and Security’s Director, John Conger, who commented on the practical, mission-based rationale for the military’s concern:

There are mission reasons to do these kinds of things. … If sea level rise is going to impact infrastructure, if a runway gets flooded, that’s a mission impact and that’s the kind of thing you’ve got to pay attention to.

It’s not like they’re doing some altruistic thing…They’re not trying to be good about climate change. They just recognize the reality that’s in front of you.

Read the full article here.

U.S. Navy and San Diego Port Partner on Sea Level Rise: First of its Kind Agreement on West Coast

training exercise at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado

Landing craft utility boats at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado during a training exercise.

This press release is a cross-post from the Port of San Diego 

Port and Navy Partner on Sea Level Rise Preparation; First of its Kind Agreement on the West Coast

As champions in the safekeeping and environmental care of San Diego Bay and our dynamic waterfront, the Port of San Diego has formally agreed to coordinate with the U.S. Navy to prepare for potential impacts of sea level rise.

At its meeting on May 8, 2018, the Board of Port Commissioners authorized a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Commander Navy Region Southwest, the first agreement of its kind between the U.S. Navy and a West Coast port. In support of both agencies’ operations and missions, the Port and the Navy will share information, evaluate the best available scientific information and modeling related to sea level rise and collaborate to identify complementary adaptation policies and measures. (more…)

Study: Atolls Hosting Critical Military Sites May Be Uninhabitable in 12 Years

Kwajalein_Atoll

Kwajalein Atoll

By John Conger, Director, The Center for Climate and Security

What do you do when your base runs out of water? That’s the question confronting the Department of Defense (DoD) in the wake of a recent analysis that says certain Pacific atolls may not be able to support human habitation as soon as 2030 (i.e. a mere 12 years from now), largely because sea-level rise will likely increase salt water corruption of the atoll’s drinking water supply, and drive routine flooding events that can damage equipment. That’s a problem not only for DoD personnel who live and work on these atolls, but for the local residents as well. (more…)

Senior Military Leaders to Congress: Climate Change Presents Strategic Challenges in the Arctic

General OShaughnessy

General O’Shaughnessy, nominee for NORTHCOM & NORAD Commander, responds to a question on climate change before the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 17, 2018

By Heather Messera

“The damn thing melted” – Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer on the Arctic, April 19, 2018

Over just the past few days, three senior military leaders from the Air Force and the Navy have raised significant concerns about the effects of climate change on the military mission in the Arctic.

First, on Tuesday, April 17, 4-star Air Force General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding his nomination to be Commander of United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). While the full hearing is worth watching (including the comments of Admiral Davidson, the PACOM nominee), a notable exchange on climate change between Senator Blumenthal and General O’Shaughnessy occurred at the 1:27:08 minute mark.  Asked about whether or not climate change presents strategic challenges in the Arctic – part of NORTHCOMs and NORADs Area of Responsibility (AoR) – General O’Shaughnessy replied “Senator, it absolutely does.” General O’Shaughnessy then went on to detail increases in activity in a thawing Arctic, highlighting the need to consider strategic competition in the region with Russia and China.  (more…)

Lieutenant General Stephen Lanza Joins the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

LtGen Lanza_USA_RetThe Center for Climate and Security is pleased and honored to announce that Lieutenant General Stephen Lanza, United States Army (Retired), has joined its distinguished Advisory Board of military, national security and foreign policy leaders.

LtGen Lanza recently retired from the Army, where his last assignment was as U.S. Army Commanding General and Senior Mission Commander for Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Tacoma, Washington. As the Senior Army Commander of JBLM, he led the nation’s most important joint power projection platform in the West Coast, providing superior leadership to 14 major subordinate commands and seven directorates and orchestrating their efforts to train, equip, and care for over 155,000 service members and civilians across the U.S. Armed Forces. Read more.  (more…)

Military Leaders Address Climate, Sea-Level Rise and Resilience at House Appropriations Committee

Major General Green

Major General Timothy Green, Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, speaks to the House Appropriations Committee on actions by the Air Force to address sea level rise risks to Langley Air Force Base, April 12, 2018

“We are already altering how we do the engineering work to protect our facilities and our missions.” – Major General Timothy Green, Air Force Director of Civil Engineers

“Our goal is resiliency across the board.” – Hon. Lucian Niemeyer, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations & Environment)

On April 12, 2018, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs held an oversight hearing on the Fiscal Year 2019 military construction budget.  During the hearing, Congressman Scott Taylor (R-VA), a former Navy SEAL who represents Naval Station Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region, raised the importance of preparing for climate change.  He asked Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations and Environment) Lucian Niemeyer whether the Department of Defense (DoD) was taking the necessary steps to ensure Norfolk and the other bases in his district were being made resilient to the effects of sea level rise. (more…)