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U.S. Foreign Assistance Programs Fall Short of Addressing Climate Change Risk

The crew of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) loads boxes of food and water donated by USAID during humanitarian aid missions to Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements

By Dr. Marc Kodack

The Department of Defense has been incorporating climate change into its strategic policy documents for more than 10 years (e.g., herehere, and here). Despite White House pressure to the contrary, it currently is expanding how it addresses climate change to address Congressional requirements contained in recent National Defense Authorization Acts (here). Less visible, but no less important are other federal agencies that are focused on foreign assistance which could complement DoD’s security cooperation/assistance efforts (here). The Congressional Research Service (2020) released a short report on four foreign assistance agencies–U.S. Agency for International Development(USAID), the Peace Corps, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation(DFC)–and if their current planning efforts are reducing climate change risk to their own operations and programs. The result is that these current planning efforts fall far short of comprehensively addressing climate change risk, especially when compared to the more robust efforts under the last administration.

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Senate Democrats Release Climate Report – Highlight National Security Risks

By John Conger

On August 25, 2020 the U.S. Senate Democrats Special Committee on the Climate Crisis published The Case for Climate Action: Building a Clean Economy for the American People.  Like the report put out by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in July, it lays out a case for climate action that invokes climate threats to national security among its supporting arguments. 

I testified before the Senate Committee in February as it was developing its report, and highlighted the Climate Security Plan for America, which was submitted as our formal testimony.

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Taking Action on Compound Climate-Fragility Risks

USAID_The Nexus of Fragility and Climate Risks_2019By Ashley Moran and Josh Busby

Fragile states face substantial and growing risks from climate change. Our recent study for USAID sought to identify precisely where and how these climate and fragility risks intersect around the world. In new briefs from USAID, we highlight the key findings and implications for policymakers.

Our Policy Summary: The Nexus of Fragility and Climate Risks notes key takeaways for policymakers at the global level. Notably: (more…)

Climate Change, State Fragility and the New CHIRPS Dataset

Syria migration

Reuters/Rodi Said

By Dr. Colin Kelley, Senior Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

In order to better understand the nexus linking climate change and state fragility, we need to better grasp the effects of climatic changes, particularly in rainfall and temperature, at the regional, national and subnational levels, and what they mean for resource availability.  Enter a new data product called CHIRPS.

The USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), in conjunction with scientists at the University of California Santa Barbara, recently developed a new precipitation dataset in support of drought monitoring called CHIRPS (Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data). CHIRPS has already been utilized successfully for this purpose, but also has other far reaching implications that will be important for better understanding of subnational to global security dynamics. These include an improved characterization of resilience in regions and states that are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and variability. (more…)

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