Climate Security

The Department of Defense has seen Climate Change as a national security issue since the Reagan Administration and has addressed it explicitly in every major national security document since 1991. Senior military leaders take the issue so seriously that in March of 2017, when President Trump ordered Executive Branch agencies to remove all mention of the “Climate Change” from their internal policy documents, then Secretary of Defense Mattis effectively sidestepped the order by keeping the focus on its undeniable real world effects, including increased global instability, sea level rise, and increased damage to military and civilian infrastructure due to severe weather events.

Despite recognizing climate change as a critical national security problem, efforts to date have focused on adaptation rather than prevention. The Department of Defense can and should play a more proactive role. The cutting-edge research that brought us nuclear power, manned space flight, and the global internet were all initiated by the Defense Department in response to pressing national security concerns.

We now face a threat of our own making, more serious than any that has come before. If we are to meet it, we must employ every resource at our disposal. Some efforts are already underway.

In February 2019 concerned members of Congress introduced The Climate Change National Security Act of 2019, which would establish an interagency working group within the Executive Branch to develop a national strategy for addressing the impacts of climate change. The bill is a strong first step in marshaling the power of our security and intelligence agencies in the fight against climate change, but more can be done.

In September of 2019, the Climate and Security Advisory Group, an independent body of climate scientists, policy experts, and retired General Officers published their own roadmap going even further.

As your representative, Ike will support the Climate Change National Security Act and work with its co-sponsors to ensure that it incorporates the far reaching recommendations of the Climate and Security Advisory Group.

The key points of that plan will include:

  • Demonstrating Leadership by making Climate Change a Vital National Security Priority and creating a new White House Office on Climate Security to oversee implementation of Department of Defense and interagency efforts.
  • Realistically Assessing Climate Risks through the creation of an interagency Climate Security Crisis Watch Center under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
  • Supporting Allies and Partners by creating Regional Climate Security Plans in critical regions of the world to bolster climate resilience and clean energy transitions in key countries, including our own.
  • Preparing for and Preventing Future Climate Disruption through a Climate Security Infrastructure Initiative to improve the climate resilience of our critical national infrastructure, and an economy-wide Climate Security Prevention Policy both within the United States and abroad to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the scale necessary to avoid catastrophic security consequences while bolstering economic development.

By leveraging the competence, capabilities, and scale of the US Department of Defense and other agencies, we can not only ensure a more secure and stable world by preventing the worst impacts of climate change, we can rebuild our national infrastructure and create a boom in green energy jobs.

The full text of the Climate and Security Advisory Group’s “Climate Security Plan for America” is available here: climateandsecurity.org/climatesecurityplanforamerica/

The Climate Change National Security Act of 2019 (HR-1201) is available here.

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