More than three dozen national security officials, members of Congress and military leaders are warning of the threat climate change poses to U.S. national security, the latest in an indicator that U.S. intelligence and national security circles are increasingly worried about a warming planet.
In a new bipartisan open letter, they stress the need for urgent action and call on both public and private support to address issues that included forced migration and the displacement of vulnerable communities, as well as the dangers related to food production during extreme weather events.
“We tried to accomplish two things: First, to make a call to action on the whole issue of climate change,” Lee Hamilton, a former member of Congress and a founder of the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA), a bipartisan Washington group that organised the letter, told IPS.
It’s very weird we’re getting '100-year floods' every five years.
“Many people are frustrated that the political system doesn’t seem to be able to deal with question of climate change. It’s not on the agenda – the president has mentioned it, politicians have mentioned it, but we really have no action taking place.”
Hamilton continued, “The second thing we did was put it in a national security context, which I think was a unique way to frame it, and hopefully it will provide an additional stimulus for action.”
Signatories to the letter include former secretaries of state (George Schultz and Madeleine Albright), secretaries of defence and homeland security (William Cohen and Tom Ridge), a former director of central intelligence (R. James Woolsey), several generals (Gen. Anthony Zinni, Gen. Wesley Clark) and others.
They join the State Department, Defence Department, National Intelligence Council and a growing number of other security voices here in emphasising the national security implications of climate change.
“Even if you’re sceptical about any single part of climate change, it’s hard to get away from the … combination of feedback loops together with population growth and increasing consumption, which lead to a number of national security concerns,” Woolsey said here Tuesday, referring to “millions upon millions of hungry, thirsty neighbours to the south [of the United States], looking for somewhere to go.”
Unless precautionary steps are taken, the letter warns that “climate change impacts abroad could spur mass migrations, influence civil conflict and ultimately lead to a more unpredictable world.” And “protecting U.S. interests under these conditions would progressively exhaust American military, diplomatic and development resources as we struggle to meet growing demands for emergency international engagement.”
The new letter also comes against the backdrop of unfulfilled promises of action from the White House and a highly polarised Congress on the issue.
For the complete article, please see Inter Press Service.
The mission of the Munich Security Conference is to “address the world’s most pressing security concerns”. These days, that means climate security: climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier, and anyone discussing food security, political instability, migration, or competition over resources should be aware of the climate change pressures that are so often at the root of security problems.
The European Green Deal has made the environment and climate change the focus of EU action. Indeed, climate change impacts are already increasing the pressure on states and societies; however, it is not yet clear how the EU can engage on climate security and environmental peacemaking. In this light, and in the run-up to the German EU Council Presidency, adelphi and its partners are organising a roundtable series on “Climate, environment, peace: Priorities for EU external action in the decade ahead”.
In January 2020, the German Federal Foreign Office launched Green Central Asia, a regional initiative on climate and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The aim of the initiative is to support a dialogue in the region on climate change and associated risks in order to foster regional integration between the six countries involved.
Climate change will shift key coordinates of foreign policy in the coming years and decades. Even now, climate policy is more than just environment policy; it has long since arrived at the centre of foreign policy. The German Foreign Office recently released a report on climate diplomacy recognizing the biggest challenges to security posed by climate change and highlighting fields of action for strengthening international climate diplomacy.