Energy & Environment

Obama inserts climate change into national security strategy

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President Obama is asking 20 federal offices to work together on a national security strategy to address climate change. 

Obama signed a directive on Wednesday telling the offices to develop a “federal climate and national security working group” to “identify the U.S. national security priorities related to climate change and national security, and develop methods to share climate science and intelligence information to inform national security policies and plans,” the White House said. 

{mosads}He charged the group with developing a climate change action plan within 90 days, laying out steps for sharing climate data, research ideas and vulnerability assessments for parts of the United States that are threatened by climate change over the next three decades. 

Obama also asked the agencies — which cover climate offices and national security missions — to write implementation plans for combatting climate change. 

“The presidential memorandum that’s being released establishes, in a way that we’ve never had in the United States at the federal government, a comprehensive policy to ensure that those current and future impacts [of climate change] are fully considered in nationals security-related doctrines, policies, assessments and plans,” Brian Deese, Obama’s senior climate adviser, told reporters on Wednesday.

Obama and his administration have long considered climate change a national security threat, a position shared by some Democrats and rejected by Republicans, who say the national security focus should be squarely on combatting terrorism rather than the climate. 

But the White House maintains that a warming climate — and the rising sea levels, expanded drought and other extreme weather events scientists warn will come with it — constitutes a threat to national security. 

The National Intelligence Council released a report Wednesday to make that point, saying climate change will impact military installations, hurt emergency response efforts and increase refugee crises and conflict over land around the world as water supplies decrease. 

Taken together, Deese said, “this is a very significant step and one that I think is a culmination of an elevation of the intersection between national security and climate change.”

Tags Climate change National security

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