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A Presidential Perspective on Climate Change and Security

SouthPorticoBy Neil Bhatiya, Climate and Diplomacy Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

In a wide-ranging story published today in the Atlantic, correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg analyzes the Obama Administration’s foreign policy record, and the particular mix of ideas, experiences, and emotions that underpin the President’s approach to the world. Over the course of several years, Goldberg has discussed global crises with the President, from Afghanistan to Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Among the fascinating details is an excerpt that reveals how the President tries to think of the varied threats facing the country:   (more…)

Pres. Obama On How Climate Risks Compare To Other National Security Priorities

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the concluding session of the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) in Anchorage, Alaska, on August 31, 2015. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Pres. Obama delivers remarks at the GLACIER conference in Alaska. State Department photo

During President Obama’s recent visit to Alaska, Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell sat down with him to talk climate. One of Goodell’s questions to President Obama was on how climate change compared to other national security risks. Both the question and President Obama’s response are worth reading and are copied below. Goodell also noted the significance of National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s participation in the Alaska trip: (more…)

U.S. Coast Guard On the Front Lines of Climate Change and National Security

Bow ThrustersToday, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Excerpts from the speech related to climate change and security are below. The White House also simultaneously released a review of federal reports on climate change and national security here (for more documents and resources, see our ClimateSecurity101). Below are responses from Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board members and staff.

Lieutenant General John G. Castellaw, US Marine Corps (ret), Advisory Board Member, The Center for Climate and Security
“The U.S. Coast Guard is on the front lines of the national security implications of a changing climate. It’s time our nation’s policy-makers gave them the support they need to help prevent, prepare for and respond to those risks.” (more…)

State of the Union: Pentagon Recognizes “Immediate Risks” Posed by Climate Change

Army_Gen._Martin_E._Dempsey,_chairman_of_the_Joint_Chiefs_of_Staff,_and_other_defense_leaders_cited_in_President_Barack_Obama's_State_of_the_Union_address_at_t_140128-D-XXXB-004aIn his State of the Union address last night, President Obama recognized the Pentagon’s concerns about the security risks of a changing climate, stating:

The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

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New Executive Order: Climate, Development and Security

SouthPorticoPresident Obama unveiled a new Executive Order on “Climate-Resilient International Development” yesterday, which aims to climate-proof U.S. development assistance to ensure that developing countries can cope with the effects of a changing climate. The EO includes a description of the kinds of climate impacts that can effect development, including references to the heightened probability of conflict (both within and between nations).

From Section 1, Policy:

The adverse impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, increases in temperatures, more frequent extreme precipitation and heat events, more severe droughts, and increased wildfire activity, along with other impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, such as ocean acidification, threaten to roll back decades of progress in reducing poverty and improving economic growth in vulnerable countries, compromise the effectiveness and resilience of U.S. development assistance, degrade security, and risk intranational and international conflict over resources.

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Pres. Obama to West Point Graduates: Climate Change A National Security Crisis

800px-Barack_Obama_greeting_cadets_in_West_PointPresident Obama delivered the commencement address to the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY this afternoon. The speech was a much-anticipated view into the President’s new, “postwar” foreign policy strategy.

In the speech, President Obama made his bottom-line explicit: (more…)

President Obama Unveils “Climate Action Plan”

Official_portrait_of_President_Obama_and_Vice_President_Biden_2012On what was one of the hottest days of the year in Washington, DC, the Obama Administration unveiled its Climate Action Plan yesterday, followed by a speech by President Obama at Georgetown University. In the speech, as in the plan, President Obama detailed the Administration’s commitment to significantly reducing GHG emissions, and making the investments necessary for adapting to the current and projected effects of climate change. After a long drought on U.S. climate policy (pun intended), this has been hailed by many as a bold step.

Click here for the full plan, and here for a summary from the White House.