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Responsibility to Prepare: A Whole of Government Approach to Climate Security

SouthPorticoIn excerpts from Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee (responses to follow-up “questions for the record”), the Secretary stressed the need for the United States to take a whole of government approach to climate change.  His quote in full:

As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.

As climate change impacts all facets of society, it makes sense for the Secretary of Defense to suggest that a range of departments and agencies across the U.S. government should work together to respond to it. Leaving the issue siloed within one department or another would leave the United States fundamentally unprepared to adequately manage and prepare for the problem. If one agrees that a core function of the U.S. government is to protect its citizens and its critical institutions from physical harm, then it can be argued that the U.S. government has a “responsibility to prepare” for climate change risks to national security. (more…)

RELEASE: U.S. Military Leaders Applaud Secretary Mattis’ Clear-Eyed View on Climate Change and Security

The_PentagonRELEASE: U.S. Military Leaders Applaud Secretary Mattis’ Clear-Eyed View on Climate Change and Security

Washington, D.C., March 16, 2017 — The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a policy institute with an Advisory Board of retired senior military officers and national security experts, applauds Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ clear-eyed view on the national security risks of a changing climate, as expressed in excerpts from unpublished written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and offers recommendations for the way forward in its Briefing Book for a New Administration (pg 11). Among the excerpts, Secretary Mattis states: “Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.” (more…)

Secretary Mattis Clear-Eyed on Climate Security Risks

James_MattisToday, ProPublica’s Andrew Revkin published a story on written testimony from Secretary of Defense James Mattis to the Senate Armed Services Committee (responses to the so-called Questions for the Record, or QFRs) wherein he strongly reaffirms the Pentagon’s practical stance on climate change: it’s a security risk that must be dealt with today – not at some distant point in the future. This builds on Department of Defense (DoD) assessments going all the way back to 1990, and makes clear that for the U.S. military, the matter is neither partisan nor ideological, but rather, a significant threat in the geostrategic landscape that the DoD has a responsibility to address. (more…)