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The Biden Administration & Climate Security: Week One

Image by DiogoC300

What a week for climate security! In his inaugural address on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said, “The cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” acknowledged the “climate is in crisis,” and promised “we will be judged…by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.” Not long after he was sworn in, President Biden signed an Executive Order to rejoin the Paris Agreement–recommendation 1.13 in our Climate Security Plan for America (CSPA). On Thursday morning, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry hit the ground running in a meeting with world leaders, promising “humility and ambition” in tackling the climate crisis.   

This week, the Senate also held hearings on key national security and cabinet nominees–many of whom recognized climate risks in their opening remarks. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines called climate change a “critical transnational threat,” while Secretary of State-Designate Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury-Designate Janet Yellen both termed the threat “existential.” Homeland Security Secretary-Designate Alejandro Mayorkas noted his agency’s role in tackling  “longer-term threats like climate change”, stating that being “prepared for and resilient to natural disasters” requires work with state, local, tribal and territorial governments. Selecting cabinet officials who will put climate change front and center in national security discussions is exactly what we called for in the CSPA first pillar: Demonstrate Leadership

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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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