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By John Conger
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been addressing climate change issues and examining how they impact national security for a long time – across multiple Administrations, both Democrat and Republican. In recent years, the DoD has done so despite political pressures to the contrary, though prioritization of the issue declined significantly after the departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis. However, recent articles (here and here) highlight a new effort within the Pentagon called Recourse Competition, Environmental Security, and Stability (RECESS), led by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Stability and Humanitarian Affairs), that seeks to create a coherent internal network within the Pentagon to address climate and environmental security threats. According to recent news, the effort is intended to “corral the Pentagon’s top experts on climate and the environment to better prepare U.S. forces for future threats and conflicts” and has “already collected more than 60 people from across the military, including the intelligence community and combatant commands.” This initiative is new and exciting for a few reasons.(more…)
The Economist recently produced a short video, Warriors and weather: Climate change and national security in America. It’s a good overview of some of the issues the U.S. Department of Defense is grappling with in regards to climate change. The video is posted below. For those looking for more than a brief overview, also posted below are links to the documents and background sources for the information presented in the video. The background documents are listed in the order that they are mentioned in the video. (more…)
If the United States is to “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region – building and broadening alliances, helping advance regional security and prosperity in the face of potentially catastrophic change, and advancing U.S. national security interests – it will have to seriously consider how climate change affects the region, how the U.S. can help advance the climate resilience of the region’s diverse nations, and how the U.S. will adapt strategically to a changed security environment. This new report, “The U.S. Asia- Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change,” published by the Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Program, the Center for New American Security and the University of Oxford, explores ways in which the effects of climate change will both shape, and be shaped by, the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. It also offers solutions for how the effects of climate change can be addressed in a strategic way, through implementing region-wide “Climate-Security Plans,” adapting military infrastructure, and supporting key nations that are grappling with climate risks to their food, water and energy security. The report’s foreword, written by former U.S. Pacific Commander, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, USN (Ret), notes:
“As we seek to rebalance and reinvigorate our historic alliances, build new strategic and economic partnerships, and effectively posture our military in the Asia-Pacific for the 21st century, we must address the potentially catastrophic security implications of climate change in the Asia-Pacific and their likely impact on U.S. interests in the region.”
The Center for Climate and Security’s Co-Director, Francesco Femia was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s planned visit to the United States later this week. Prime Minister Abbott has apparently canceled meetings with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and there is some speculation that this might have occurred as a result of President Obama’s recent climate change policy announcement, and push to have climate change put back on the G20 agenda (Australia will be hosting the G20 Summit later this year). To date, Prime Minister Abbott has been hesitant to engage on the subject of climate change. Despite the politics of the issue, however, the Australian Defence Force has been taking climate change seriously for some time. (more…)