Security Implications of Climate Change
Washington, DC: The “Report on National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate” was provided to Congress yesterday.
The report responds to the request by the Senate Committee on Appropriations for information on the National Security Implications of Climate Change made in the report to accompany H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015.
Specifically, the committee requested that the undersecretary of defense for policy provide a report that identifies the most serious and likely climate-related security risks for each combatant command and the ways those commands integrate risk mitigation into their planning processes. Further, the report was to provide resources required for effective responses and the timeline of resource needs.
The report reinforces the fact that global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the foreseeable future because it will aggravate existing problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries.
The report finds that climate change is a security risk because it degrades living conditions, human security, and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. Communities and states that are already fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges.
The Department of Defense’s primary responsibility is to protect national security interests around the world. This involves considering all aspects of the global security environment and planning appropriately for potential contingencies and the possibility of unexpected developments both in the near and the longer terms. It is in this context that the department must consider the effects of climate change — such as sea level rise, shifting climate zones, and more frequent and intense severe weather events — and how these effects could impact national security.
To reduce the national security implications of climate change, combatant commands are already integrating climate-related impacts into their planning cycles. The ability of the United States and other countries to cope with the risks and implications of climate change requires monitoring, analysis, and integration of those risks into existing overall risk management measures, as appropriate for each combatant command.
The report concludes the department is already observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, the Arctic, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America.