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The Center for Climate and Security Applauds the Biden Administration’s Executive Actions on Climate Change

The Center for Climate and Security applauds President Biden’s Executive Orders (EO) on climate change released today, including the EO specifically addressing climate threats to national security titled  “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”  This EO devotes a significant section (1.3) to climate security, following through on many of the policy proposals made in the President’s campaign plan, and reflecting recommendations the Center for Climate and Security made in its “Climate Security Plan for America.”

As we noted after the election last November, President Biden committed to making climate change a core national security priority. This EO begins to make that commitment a reality, noting that climate considerations are an “essential element” of all U.S. foreign and national security policy – signaling a major and unprecedented elevation of the issue.  It builds on the President’s appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry to be his Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (a position with a seat on the National Security Council, established in the EO), and the creation of a Senior Director for Climate and Energy at the National Security Council  – actions that together go well beyond the Obama Administration’s actions on climate security.  

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The Biden Administration & Climate Security: Week One

Image by DiogoC300

What a week for climate security! In his inaugural address on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said, “The cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” acknowledged the “climate is in crisis,” and promised “we will be judged…by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.” Not long after he was sworn in, President Biden signed an Executive Order to rejoin the Paris Agreement–recommendation 1.13 in our Climate Security Plan for America (CSPA). On Thursday morning, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry hit the ground running in a meeting with world leaders, promising “humility and ambition” in tackling the climate crisis.   

This week, the Senate also held hearings on key national security and cabinet nominees–many of whom recognized climate risks in their opening remarks. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines called climate change a “critical transnational threat,” while Secretary of State-Designate Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury-Designate Janet Yellen both termed the threat “existential.” Homeland Security Secretary-Designate Alejandro Mayorkas noted his agency’s role in tackling  “longer-term threats like climate change”, stating that being “prepared for and resilient to natural disasters” requires work with state, local, tribal and territorial governments. Selecting cabinet officials who will put climate change front and center in national security discussions is exactly what we called for in the CSPA first pillar: Demonstrate Leadership

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Sherri Goodman on the Climatization of Security for the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies

By Mackenzie Allen

In early December 2020, Sherri Goodman spoke with Bangladeshi retired Major General Munir Muniruzzaman about climate security in South East Asia and the United States. Goodman discussed mainstreaming climate change in foreign policy and national security decision-making as part of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) virtual ‘Strategic Conversation’ discussion program. 

Sherri Goodman currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Council on Strategic Risks and is a Senior Strategist for its Center for Climate and Security. General Muniruzzaman is the President of the BIPSS and Chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change. 

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A Climate Security Plan for America Part 1: Demonstrate Leadership

By John Conger

Part 1 of 4 in the Climate Security Plan for America Blog Series

In late 2019, the Center for Climate and Security-led Climate Security Advisory Group, a group of senior U.S. national security and military experts, including eight retired four-star generals and admirals, published the A Climate Security Plan for America.  These leaders outlined a comprehensive plan to elevate climate change as a security priority and offered recommendations in four broad categories.  This blog discusses the first, Demonstrating Leadership.

As we stated in the report, we believed that in order to successfully counter climate security challenges, it must be an articulated priority of the U.S. President.  Check.  President-elect Biden has repeated often that he seeks to make climate change “a core national security priority.”  He named former Secretary Kerry as his “climate envoy” with a seat on the National Security Council.  For his own part, Secretary Kerry’s initial comments on his new role have focused on the security threat posed by climate change. 

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