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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James Mattis’ clear-eyed view on the national security risks of a changing climate, as expressed in excerpts from unpublished written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and offers recommendations for the way forward in its Briefing Book for a New Administration (pg 11).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…)

Looking Back to Look Forward: The DoD and Opportunities in a Changing Climate

us_navy_military_sealift_command_underway_replenishment_oiler_usns_walter_s-_diehl_provides_fuel_and_suppliesAs the current Administration winds down, each of the President’s Cabinet members have submitted “Exit Memos” detailing “the progress we’ve made, their vision for the country’s future, and the work that remains in order to achieve that vision.” They are all worth a read. Of particular note is Secretary of Defense Ashton “Ash” Carter’s memo, and how it contextualizes the risks and opportunities associated with a changing climate. Despite perceptions to the contrary, Secretary Carter joins a growing list of defense leaders, civilian and military, stretching back to the early years of the George W. Bush Administration, that have taken climate change seriously as both a matter of national security, and a driver of innovative action. (more…)

Secretary of Defense Carter: the “growing strategic impact of climate change”

ash_carter_dod_secretary_portraitU.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made a recent statement at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, calling for a “principled security network” for the Asia-Pacific region – one that could collectively address the region’s myriad security challenges – including “the growing strategic impact of climate change.” Rather than ranking threats against each other, which tends to miss the integrated nature of the security landscape, Secretary Carter places climate change within the broader context of a range of pressing security threats and opportunities facing the region, that will be best addressed through a cooperative approach: (more…)

Secretary Gates: National Security Implications of Climate Change “Very Real”

Announcement of new Secretary of Defense.

Gates accepts nomination as Sec of Def from Bush, White House photo by Paul Morse

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (serving as Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama) recently sat down for an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation. Host John Dickerson asked Secretary Gates about his views on the national security implications of climate change. The interview is transcribed below, but in short, Secretary Gates noted that climate change does have serious consequences for national security. Gates also noted that ranking risks is not an appropriate way to look at the security landscape. We agree (see “Is Climate Change the Biggest Security Threat?” Is Still A Bad Question). The sooner we stop asking, “Is climate a national security issue?” and start asking, “How will climate change impact our national security priorities?” the better off we will be. Secretary Gates is spot on. (more…)

Enhancing U.S.-Philippines Defense Cooperation in a Changing Climate

Underway supply replenishment

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian H. Abel

By Christine Parthemore, Executive Director, The Center for Climate and Security

As part of a long trip through the Asia-Pacific, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made news this week during his stop in the Philippines, where he announced new details of America’s current defense relationship and plans to expand it. The U.S. will be “deploying nine aircraft and hundreds of U.S. troops and special operators to at least seven bases in the Philippines as part of a new, regular presence there,” as Stars and Stripes reported. This additional presence, Carter stated, is primarily to “tamp down tensions” in the South China Sea.

With more U.S. assets and personnel heading to the region, the U.S.-Philippines partnership needs to include measures to ensure preparedness for some of the more damaging effects of climate change, including sea level rise, that will hit the Philippines particularly hard. The bilateral relationship already includes work relevant to preparing for the changing climate, including the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief elements of the annual Balikatan exercise. Other productive cooperative activities could include:

  • Sharing sea level rise projections relevant to military and coast guard facilities.
  • Where projections need updating, develop them together. This should include reviewing whether data can be leveraged from existing terrestrial monitors and remote sensing assets.
  • Share lessons with the Philippines from U.S. bases already being hit by sea level rise, such as our critical defense sites in the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads area.

Be sure to track Carter’s trip at the Department’s extensive Asia-Pacific Rebalance website, and check out the Center for Climate and Security’s analysis and recommendations on climate change and the Asia-Pacific rebalance here.

Defense Secretary Carter on the Strategic Implications of Climate Change

ash_carter_dod_secretary_portrait

Photo by US DoD

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently spoke to a group at the Commonwealth Club in California. His remarks touched on issues related to climate risks, including state stability, the oceans, and the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific (for more on this see “The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change). The question and answer session following Sec. Carter’s remarks included a question specifically on what the Department of Defense was doing on climate change (transcribed below). In his response, Sec. Carter makes it very clear that climate change is a strategic threat to the Department of Defense, and something the military is watching closely.

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Military Leaders Agree with Pentagon: Climate Change an “Immediate Risk to National Security”

The_PentagonRELEASE: Military Leaders Agree with New Pentagon Roadmap: Climate Change an “Immediate Risk to National Security”

Washington, D.C. — The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a policy institute with an Advisory Board of retired senior military officers and national security experts, concurs with the U.S. Department of Defense’s recently-released 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (CCAR), which states: “Climate change will affect the DoD’s ability to defend the nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security.” CCS also supports concrete actions called for in the roadmap, such as the integration of climate change considerations into “Department-wide plans and guidance to the Combatant Commanders,” while noting that important choices lie ahead. (more…)