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UPDATE: Chronology of U.S. Military Statements and Actions on Climate Change and Security: 2017-2019

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Since January 2017, twenty-one senior officials at the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) have publicly 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 then-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; Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville; AFRICOM Commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser; Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, Major General Timothy Green; NORTHCOM/ NORAD Commander, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy; Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, Alex Beehler; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, General Robert McMahon; General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps; and most recently, Admiral Philip Davidson, INDOPACOM Commander. The DoD also produced a survey report on the matter in January 2018, and a report to Congress on climate change threats to its critical military infrastructure and Geographic Combatant Commands in January 2019.

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, which includes more information and context. (more…)

The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode 8 with Michael Wu

Michael Wu_Climate and Security PodcastWelcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In this episode, Michael Wu, Policy Fellow at The Center for Climate and Security and Principal of Converge Strategies, talks about the electric grid and its history. He discusses how the risk of long-term, widespread power outages is increasing as threats from natural disasters and adversaries increase. These threats mutually reinforce each another in that natural disasters make impacted areas more vulnerable to nefarious attacks.  He explains what electricity disruptions mean for Department of Defense mission completion as well as implications for our daily lives. Tune in to this informative discussion! (more…)

Commander of US Forces in the Indo-Asia Pacific Affirms Climate Change Threat

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Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), describes climate change threats before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Feb 12, 2019

By John Conger

During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 12, Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), affirmed the threat climate change poses to his Area of Responsibility, becoming the 21st senior military official to raise concerns about climate risks during the current Administration (see here for a list from November, and here for statements from Admiral Moran and General Neller in December).

During questioning, Admiral Davidson confirmed that he agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment of the climate change threat, as articulated in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment published by the Director for National Intelligence (NOTE: climate change has been identified as a security threat in each of the last ten such assessments). (more…)

The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode 7 with Joan VanDervort

joanvandervort_climateandsecuritypodcastWelcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In this episode Joan VanDervort, Member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board and former Deputy Director for Ranges, Sea and Airspace in the U.S. Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness), talks about how climate change impacts military training and readiness. Joan pulls from her extensive career in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to explain how training is the cornerstone of readiness.  Climate factors, like intense rainfall impacts on infrastructure and increased heat causing trainee and soldier hospitalizations, pose serious risks to training and ultimately to the ability to successfully carry out military missions. Joan also discuss how the DoD tracks the migration of diseases as well as the health of military personal going into combat. Tune into this episode for insights into military readiness that can only come from decades of experience as a civil servant.

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New Pentagon Report: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue”

dod climate report_01_2019By John Conger

In the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Congress asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide a report on “vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years.”  That report was delivered to Congress yesterday, prosaically-titled Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense.

The first sentence in the “background” section of the study is worth noting. It reaffirms that the DoD continues to take climate change seriously, as it has across four administrations, both Republican and Democrat. The sentence reads: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations.” (more…)

Climate and Security on Government Matters TV

conger_government matters_jan 10 2019On yesterday’s Government Matters: Defense, a news program that provides non-partisan information and analysis to federal managers and contractors in the defense space, the Center for Climate and Security’s Director, John Conger, and the New America Foundation’s Sharon Burke, discussed the impacts of climate change on military installations and energy security, respectively. Click here for the interview with John Conger, and here for the interview with Sharon Burke.

 

Admiral Paul Zukunft Joins the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

adm zukunft_2018The Center for Climate and Security is pleased and honored to announce that Admiral Paul Zukunft, United States Coast Guard (Retired), has joined its distinguished Advisory Board of military and national security leaders.

Admiral Zukunft served as the 25th Commandant of the Coast Guard from 2014 until 2018. During his tenure as Commandant, the Coast Guard attained its highest appropriation in history to modernize its fleet and upgrade aging infrastructure while concurrently attaining four clean financial audit opinions –
the only Armed Service to do so. His 41 years of active duty service and 8 commands to include three Coast Guard cutters spanned the globe and the Service has emerged as the gold standard for promoting maritime safety and security. In 2010, he served as the Federal On-Scene Coordinator during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill where he directed over 47,000 first responders, a flotilla of more than 6,700 vessels and over 120 aircraft. (more…)