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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…)