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Our Take: New Intelligence and Presidential Memos on Climate Change and National Security

SouthPorticoOn September 21, 2016, the Obama Administration made two significant announcements related to climate change and national security – one which highlights the latest intelligence on the nature of the risk, and the second which lays the foundation for managing that risk across agencies. This included:

 

These releases both reflect the reality of this accelerating risk, as identified by many in the bipartisan national security community to date, as well as practical next steps recommended by the Climate and Security Advisory Group.

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The National Security Strategy: A Climate-Security Perspective

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Obama Administration released its second and last National Security Strategy (NSS) today. In the NSS, climate change is appropriately listed, along with eight other threats such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and global economic crisis, as among the “top strategic risks to our interests.” This follows on the leadership of the Department of Defense in its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (CCAR), where climate change is identified as a “threat multiplier” and as posing “immediate risks to national security.” However, based on how responses to climate risks are conveyed in the NSS, there is room for improvement. (more…)

New Executive Order: Climate, Development and Security

SouthPorticoPresident Obama unveiled a new Executive Order on “Climate-Resilient International Development” yesterday, which aims to climate-proof U.S. development assistance to ensure that developing countries can cope with the effects of a changing climate. The EO includes a description of the kinds of climate impacts that can effect development, including references to the heightened probability of conflict (both within and between nations).

From Section 1, Policy:

The adverse impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, increases in temperatures, more frequent extreme precipitation and heat events, more severe droughts, and increased wildfire activity, along with other impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, such as ocean acidification, threaten to roll back decades of progress in reducing poverty and improving economic growth in vulnerable countries, compromise the effectiveness and resilience of U.S. development assistance, degrade security, and risk intranational and international conflict over resources.

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White House Comments on the Security Risks of Climate Change

SouthPorticoOn Wednesday of this week, Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, hosted a short Q&A on national security via twitter. The Center for Climate and Security’s Caitlin Werrell posed the following question, and received the following response from Mr. Rhodes: (more…)

White House Honors Veterans for Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security

Soldiers_assist_residents_displaced_by_Hurricane_Sandy_in_Hoboken,_N.J.The White House is hosting an event today honoring twelve American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan from across the country as “Champions of Change” for their work in advancing clean energy and increasing climate resilience and preparedness in their communities. (more…)

Frozen Government, Melting Arctic

Arctic_melt_trends_graphAs the U.S. government freezes, the Arctic continues to melt. This is not a healthy state of affairs. In a recent article in Roll Call, Sherri Goodman and Robert Gagosian of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative call for greater attention to a rapidly-changing Arctic by Congress and the White House. While in the coming days U.S. government officials are more likely to be exploring dining and drinking deals than the Arctic seas, it is a crucial issue that should be taken up as soon as possible, not least because it should lend itself to bipartisan cooperation. (more…)

White House Releases National Strategy for the Arctic Region

031000-N-XXXXB-001The White House Office of the Press Secretary has just issued a statement announcing the release of a National Strategy for the Arctic Region.  The strategy includes significant attention to the role climate change plays in regional security and cooperation. Specifically, the strategy outlines the “lines of effort” as: 1. Advance United States Security Interests, 2. Pursue Responsible Arctic Region Stewardship, 3. Strengthen International Cooperation. Attention to climate change risks is strewn throughout the document. Here are some notable excerpts: (more…)