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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.

Update: Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change

071127-N-7955L-130The American Security Project (ASP) has just released an updated version of its Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change, which examines how national security establishments across the globe view (and address) climate change. The update hones in on a handful of specific countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Guyana, India, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Here is a description of the index, and update ,from the ASP website: (more…)

Philippines And United States To Cooperate On Climate Security

Underway supply replenishmentPresident Barack Obama recently returned from his tour of the Asia-Pacific to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to its “pivot to Asia” policy. An important stop along the way was a visit to long-time ally of the United States, the Philippines. During President Obama’s visit, the Philippines and the United States signed a 10-year defense agreement. According to Evan Medeiros, the National Security Council’s senior director for Asian affairs, “This is the most significant defense agreement that we have concluded with the Philippines in decades.” The Washington Post reported that in addition to helping to balance China’s claims to the South China Sea, the agreement “gives the United States greater flexibility to respond to threats and natural disasters in the region.” This was echoed in remarks by President Obama and President Benigno Aquino in a joint press conference.  (more…)

Defense News: Can Stoltenberg Tackle NATO’s Climate Mission?

782px-Jens_StoltenbergDefense News has just published an article (broken link, see PDF of article here) co-written by CNA’s Sherri Goodman and The Center for Climate and Security’s Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell. The commentary seeks to answer the question: What does the appointment of Jens Stoltenberg as the next NATO Secretary General mean for NATO’s climate change mission?

While NATO certainly has its hands full with recent developments in and around Ukraine, it will have to be able to address multiple security risks on multiple fronts. Given that NATO has long recognized that climate change is a threat to security, addressing climate-related risks should not fall too far to the wayside. Stoltenberg has experience in taking firm stances on both traditional matters of national security during his tenure as Prime Minister of Norway, and on climate change as a UN Special Envoy.

With the strong support of key member states like the United States, Germany and the UK, who have also supported addressing the security risks of climate change, the next Secretary General of NATO could make substantial gains in preparing the alliance for these risks. But it won’t be easy.

For more on the opportunities and challenges that await NATO’s next Secretary General, read the article here.

Updated 10/5/2017: The original link to the Defense News article is now broken. A PDF of the article produced by the Center for Climate and Security can be found here.