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Reaction: The New National Security Strategy and Climate Change

SouthPorticoThe Administration today released its first National Security Strategy. Click here for the official summary, and here for the full text. Notably, climate change is not listed as a national security risk in the document, though there are a few elements that relate to the subject. Below is the Center for Climate and Security’s out-of-the-gate reaction: (more…)

Responsibility to Prepare: A Whole of Government Approach to Climate Security

SouthPorticoIn excerpts from Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee (responses to follow-up “questions for the record”), the Secretary stressed the need for the United States to take a whole of government approach to climate change.  His quote in full:

As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.

As climate change impacts all facets of society, it makes sense for the Secretary of Defense to suggest that a range of departments and agencies across the U.S. government should work together to respond to it. Leaving the issue siloed within one department or another would leave the United States fundamentally unprepared to adequately manage and prepare for the problem. If one agrees that a core function of the U.S. government is to protect its citizens and its critical institutions from physical harm, then it can be argued that the U.S. government has a “responsibility to prepare” for climate change risks to national security. (more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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…)