Warren releases plan to tackle climate change threats to military

Warren releases plan to tackle climate change threats to military
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenRestless progressives eye 2024 Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Biden eyes new path for Fed despite Powell pick MORE (Mass.) on Wednesday released a plan to prepare the military for climate change, including requiring the Pentagon to achieve net-zero carbon emissions on noncombat bases by 2030.

“In short, climate change is real, it is worsening by the day, and it is undermining our military readiness. And instead of meeting this threat head-on, Washington is ignoring it —  and making it worse,” Warren wrote in a post on Medium.

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“Nibbling around the edges of the problem is no longer enough  —  the urgency of the moment demands more,” she added.

Warren, who unveiled the plan in both the blog post shared by her campaign press office and a bill to be introduced in the Senate this week, has been working to stand out from the 20-plus other Democrats running for president by releasing detailed policy proposals on a number of issues.

On military issues, she previously released a plan to address substandard housing provided by private contractors.

Warren, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has zeroed in on climate change in her questions to witnesses at hearings this year.

Military leadership has for years recognized threats posed by climate change, but their acknowledgment of it has become a touchier subject under President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE, who has often questioned the reality of climate change.

In her Wednesday post, Warren highlighted that Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska have been battered by storms in the last couple of years and require billions of dollars to be rebuilt.

She also cited the military’s characterization of climate change as a “threat multiplier” that exacerbates issues that lead to conflict.

A companion bill to Warren's is being introduced in the House by Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarHistoric immigration reform included in House-passed spending bill Democrats call on Biden to sanction climate change contributors Progressives see infrastructure vote next week MORE (D-Texas) with co-sponsorship from Reps. Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (D-Calf.), Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillKatie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Katie Hill says 'it would take a lot' to convince her to run again for House The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns MORE (D-Calif.), Deb HaalandDeb HaalandInterior recommends imposing higher costs for public lands drilling Overnight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office Biden administration approves second offshore wind project off Rhode Island MORE (D-N.M.) and Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoWith Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Poll shows Sinema's popularity dropping further among Arizona Democrats Cornyn says he 'would be surprised' if GOP tries to unseat Sinema in 2024 MORE (D-Ariz.).

Warren called the “ambitious goal” of achieving net-zero carbon emissions on noncombat bases by 2030 “consistent” with the Green New Deal, a climate plan championed by progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezRestless progressives eye 2024 Five issues that will define the months until the midterms  GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE (D-N.Y.) that has been backed by several Democratic presidential candidates.

In addition to the net-zero goal for the bases, Warren’s plan would require contractors who haven’t achieved net-zero carbon emissions to pay a fee of 1 percent of the value of the contract. The fee would go into a fund to adapt the military to climate change.

The plan would also require the annual Pentagon budget to include dedicated funds to adapt to and mitigate climate change, as well as estimates on the effects of climate change-related events.

She would also create a new position of assistant secretary of Defense for energy and climate resiliency and require an annual report on the effects of climate change on the Pentagon.

Warren also said she plans to invest “billions of dollars” into a new, 10-year research program at the Pentagon focused on microgrids and advanced energy storage.

“We don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one,” she wrote. “My energy and climate resiliency plan will improve our service members’ readiness and safety, all while achieving cost savings for American taxpayers. Our military understands that, and it’s time our elected leaders did as well. Together, we can work with our military to fight climate change  —  and win.” 

Updated at 12:32 p.m.