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3 Pentagon Strategy Documents in 3 Months Highlight Climate Change Risks

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Senior-ranking military members discuss current humanitarian assistance operations at a senior leaders seminar at Sattahip Naval Base in Chonburi Province, Thailand Feb. 14, 2017.

From April to June of this year, the U.S. military has issued not one, but three strategy documents that highlight climate change risks to the U.S. military mission. These include:

June 6: Department of Defense Arctic Strategy, U.S. Department of Defense

June 1: The Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, Partnerships and Promoting a Networked Region, U.S. Department of Defense

April 22: United States Coast Guard: Arctic Strategic Outlook, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard

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BRIEFER: Sea Level Rise and Deterritorialized States

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Kwajalein Atoll

By Collin Douglas, Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

Excerpt: The definition of a state in modern international law has four requirements: a permanent population, a government, the ability to interact with other states, and most important for this context, a defined territory. The prospect of rising seas making low-lying island states uninhabitable, or completely submerged, puts the territorial requirement in jeopardy. However, there are historical examples of flexibility in state control of territory.

Read the full briefer here.

 

 

Event: Security & Climate: Issues and Perspectives for the Pacific Coast

US Army Blackhawk Wildfire California

California Army National Guard conducts helicopter bucket training at Irvine Lake,  to prepare for wildfire season

The Center for Climate and Security, with support from The San Diego Foundation and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, is hosting a high-level event ‘Security & Climate Change: Issues and Perspectives for the Pacific Coast’ in San Diego, California on Tuesday, February 21. Confirmed speakers include: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA), Rear Admiral Yancy B. Lindsey, Commander, Navy Region Southwest, General Ron Keys, U.S. Air Force (ret), Ambassador Reno Harnish, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The full agenda is below.

The US is a Pacific nation. The Asia-Pacific is one of the most disaster prone and climate vulnerable regions of world with a rapidly-growing population. It’s the most militarized part of the globe, and home to both rising powers and failed states – including states with nuclear capabilities. And it’s also home to some of the U.S.’s closest allies. The US military hosts numerous coastal installations across the region (including on the West Coast of the U.S.), and the U.S. is slowly but surely “rebalancing” towards this critical region. Considering this reality, addressing climate change risks in the Asia-Pacific should be a key element of U.S. national security and foreign policy, not least as that response presents significant opportunities for the United States, both at home and abroad. We are at a critical moment in time when we must decide whether or not we will lead in addressing the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. This conference aims to start answering that question. (more…)

Australian Defence White Paper on Climate Security Risks

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Australian Royal Navy (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison/Released)

The Australian Department of Defence just released its 2016 Defence White Paper, a strategic document detailing its priorities. The White Paper notes that: “…the Government is investing in Australia’s defence capabilities to strengthen Australia’s security in the more complex strategic environment Australia will face in the years ahead.” According to the White Paper, one factor contributing to this “more complex strategic environment” is climate change. Below are the passages within the document pertaining specifically to climate change. Not included below are the numerous passages related to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, but it is worth noting that these are important capabilities for addressing climate impacts, enhancing international engagement and managing strategic risks. The 2009 and 2013 Defence White Papers also included sections on climate change and resource scarcity. (more…)

Climate Security on the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation Table

Members_of_the_Papua_New_Guinea_Defense_Force_prepare_to_embark_aboard_the_Royal_Australian_Navy_landing_ship_heavy_HMAS_Tobruk_(L50)The annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the “principal forum for bilateral consultations between Australian and the United States,” took place this week in Sydney, and discussion of the security implications of climate change was on the agenda. The consultations included the Australian Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence, the US Secretaries of State and Defense, and other senior officials from the countries’ respective diplomatic and defense establishments. According to the Australian government’s website, “The Consultations provide a major opportunity to discuss and share perspectives and approaches on major global and regional political issues, and to deepen bilateral foreign security and defence cooperation.” In this context, discussion of climate -security is important. (more…)

Australia’s Chief of Army: Australian Defence Force Needs to Consider Climate Impacts

Australian Defense Force chief of Army, military leaders meet at AASAM 2012On the heels of Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments in Jakarta, Indonesia on the security implications of climate change, Australia’s Chief of Army noted that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will need to plan for the security implications of a changing climate. According to Australia Network News, Lieutenant General David Morrison stated: “We have to look at the region, with a number of low-lying islands, to be confident in drawing conclusions that there will be a role for the military as a result.” In terms of what that might mean for the ADF, Lieutenant General Morrison noted that the “most likely role for the military” would be “providing immediate assistance for humanitarian and disaster relief.”

These comments build on previous concerns expressed by the ADF, including in a conference on climate change organized by the ADF in the autumn of last year, and Australia’s 2013 National Security Strategy – released under the previous government.

Pacific Environmental Security Forum: Militaries Must be Resilient to Climate Change

PACOM_AORU.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and the Australian Department of Defence (ADoD) recently hosted the 2013 Pacific Environmental Security Forum, an 18-country gathering charged with answering the question: “As climate change continues to increase both the intensity and frequency of natural disasters, how should militaries in the Pacific region respond?” (more…)