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How to Prioritize Climate Change in U.S. National Security

By Kate Guy

From the outset of Joe Biden’s run for the American presidency, he pledged to look at national security with fresh eyes. Evolving systemic threats like climate change, often relegated to the portfolios of environmental experts and science agencies, were repeatedly mentioned in his plans to remake U.S. defense and foreign policy. “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” he often reiterated in the closing days of his campaign.

Now, with the first members of President-elect Biden’s national security team announced, it’s clear that he has taken the first steps to make good on these campaign promises. In the past few years, nominees like Blinken, Sullivan, and Haines have each referenced the need for the U.S. to prioritize addressing climate change in its approach to global challenges. And with the creation of a cabinet-level Presidential Climate Envoy, long-time climate security leader John Kerry will sit in every meeting of the National Security Council with his eye trained on climate threats.

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What Would a Climate-Focused Defense Budget Look Like?

John Conger talks to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on climate threats to the U.S. military – April 25, 2019

By John Conger

Every Administration makes changes to the draft budget they receive before it is submitted to Congress, and there’s every reason to expect that to be the case with a President Biden.  The budget is supposed to be submitted by the first Monday in February, but that deadline is rarely met.  Incoming Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush submitted their budgets in April, while President Barack Obama submitted his first budget in May.  In this window, changes get made to better reflect the priorities of the incoming Administration.

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U.S. President-Elect Biden and the Climate Security Nexus: Recommendations for the Way Ahead

By John Conger

In the wake of the declaration that Former Vice President Joseph Biden will become the next President of the United States, we must consider what this means for climate security.  Make no mistake, there will be significant consequences for climate change and for national security separately, but our focus at the Center for Climate and Security is their nexus.  We will be exploring this in significant detail in the weeks ahead, but I wanted to offer two thoughts in the wake of the election result.

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RELEASE: The Council on Strategic Risks Offers Recommendations for the Next U.S. Administration on Biological, Climate and Nuclear Threats

Washington, DC, October 20, 2020 – Today, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) released important new policy recommendations: “Confronting Systemic Security Risks: Proposals for the Next U.S. Administration.” The briefer offers policy ideas for consideration by the national security leaders of the next Presidential Administration, and covers three important areas of global strategic risk: biological threats, climate threats, and nuclear threats. 

“Many of the most serious security threats facing the United States today arise from rapid developments spiraling across a complex and changing globe,” the report states. “Each of these risks will require an integrated approach across the Federal government, pairing the analytic systems of the Pentagon and intelligence community with the early warning capabilities of our diplomatic and development experts. To prevent the worst impacts, a well-rounded U.S. security community must be prepared and responsive as soon as a new strategic threat emerges.”

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