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A Presidential Perspective on Climate Change and Security

SouthPorticoBy Neil Bhatiya, Climate and Diplomacy Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

In a wide-ranging story published today in the Atlantic, correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg analyzes the Obama Administration’s foreign policy record, and the particular mix of ideas, experiences, and emotions that underpin the President’s approach to the world. Over the course of several years, Goldberg has discussed global crises with the President, from Afghanistan to Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Among the fascinating details is an excerpt that reveals how the President tries to think of the varied threats facing the country:   (more…)

U.S.-Canada Agree to Continue Climate and Security Cooperation

President_Barack_Obama_talks_with_Prime_Minister_Justin_Trudeau_of_Canada_and_President_Enrique_Peña_Nieto_of_Mexico_prior_to_the_2015_APEC_Summit

By Pete Souza

President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau issued a U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership today. The statement clearly recognizes the links between climate change, state fragility, and national security. The leaders both agreed to continue to cooperate internationally to address these challenges throughout their defense, diplomacy and development policies and specifically through the G7. Importantly, this bi-lateral agreement reinforces the multi-lateral commitment at the G7 to more deeply address the intersection of climate change and state fragility. The text from the agreement reads: (more…)

Climate Security Q&A with Admiral Titley and Admiral Morisetti

US-UK-blendThe UK Embassy, Washington, hosted a Climate Security Tweetathon yesterday, sponsored by the Center for Climate and Security and the Center for a New American Security. In the spirit of the special relationship between the US and the UK, it included a Q&A session via twitter, with CCS Advisory Board member Rear Admiral David Titley, US Navy (ret) and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, British Royal Navy (ret). The tweetathon was part of a broader effort by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on climate change. The US and the UK have a history of leadership in the climate-security space (see here and here for more). Below is a transcript of the Climate Security Q&A with Admiral Titley and Admiral Morisetti, (which is very nuanced, given the 140 character twitter limit). For additional tweets on climate security see @CntrClimSec on Twitter. (more…)

U.S.-China Climate Agreement: Implications for National Security?

"Friendship and Cooperation Through Music." Collaboration between musicians from the US and Chinese Armies.

“Friendship and Cooperation Through Music.” Collaboration between musicians from the US and Chinese Armies.

The United States and China concluded a joint climate agreement yesterday. While the effect of this agreement on the rate and scale of climate change is potentially significant, it may also serve a broader geopolitical benefit as the United States gradually “rebalances” its foreign and security policy to the Asia-Pacific region, and pursues other national security interests in forums such as the UN Security Council.

Enduring tensions between China and the United States (and its allied and partner nations) over the South China Sea, as well as a broad range of other difficult dynamics in the relationship (e.g. cyber warfare, U.S. concerns over a growing and more assertive Chinese military, human rights, consistent disagreement at the UN Security Council, and competing proposals for free trade zones in the region, one that excludes China and the other that’s China-led), are likely to continue for some time to come. However, an agreement of this kind can spill over into other areas of the relationship, thereby broadening the aperture for U.S. cooperation (and competition) with China on a range of issues of core concern to U.S. national security.

In other words, this is not just a climate agreement. It’s also a trust-building exercise that may offer the United States a greater amount of freedom and flexibility in pursuing the national security goals of the US and its allied and partner nations.