It has been two years since the first U.S. bipartisan effort to address the national security threats of climate change. Members of the House of Representatives voted to strike down Representative Perry’s Amendment (#390) to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to keep language in the NDAA that stated that it was the sense of Congress that climate change “is a direct threat to the national security of the United States” and that military installations “must be able to effectively prepare to mitigate climate damage.” Recently, there have been further efforts within Congress to reaffirm its commitment to addressing climate change. These bills are a symbol to the rest of the world that the U.S. is “still in” in responding to the threat of climate change.
This page will be continuously updated with any future legislation related to climate change and national security.
Current Legislation: (Updated 11/21/19)
U.S. House of Representatives
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)
International leadership is a national security priority and requires U.S. engagement on climate change to maintain that leadership. The Paris Agreement was a vital first step for international action on climate change. Without the U.S., the Agreement is missing one of the largest contributors to climate change. Further, by not participating the U.S. cedes leadership to competing nations like China. The Climate Action Now Act aims to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement and pushes for higher emission targets. The bill addresses some of the concerns about the Paris Agreement by verifying that China and India are adhering to their commitments within the Agreement.
5/2/19, passed in House
6/5/19 S.1743, a Senate companion bill, was introduced in the Senate and referred to Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
The Climate Change National Security Strategy Act of 2019 directs Federal departments and agencies to “ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans, and for other purposes.” The Act would also create a Climate and National Security Working Group to identify the national security priorities and develop recommendations to address those priorities. Integrating climate change into planning documents would build resiliency throughout all departments and agencies to the coming changes.
Status: 2/13/19, introduced in House
Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA)
To amend the National Security Act of 1947 to establish a Climate Security Intelligence Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and for other purposes.
Status: 6/6/19, introduced into House and referred to House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee; similar language included in H.R. 3494, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
The Intelligence Authorization Act includes many provisions, one of which creates a Climate Security Advisory Council.
Status: 7/17/19, passed in House
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
To enhance the Federal Government’s planning and preparation for extreme weather and the Federal Government’s dissemination of best practices to respond to extreme weather, thereby increasing resilience, improving regional coordination, and mitigating the financial risk to the Federal Government from such extreme weather, and for other purposes.
Status: 9/17/2019, introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY)
To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the Under Secretary for Science and Technology of the Department of Homeland Security to research and evaluate existing Federal research regarding approaches to mitigate climate change on homeland security to identify areas for further research within the Department, research and develop approaches to mitigate the consequences of climate change on homeland security, and for other purposes.
Status: 10/18/19, introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security
Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY)
To direct the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise the policy of the Agency to address the threats of climate change, to include considerations of climate change in the strategic plan of the Agency, and for other purposes.
Status: 10/23/19, introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Transportation subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
The Climate Security Act proposes the creation of a Senate-confirmed Climate Security Envoy within the Department of State. The Climate Security Envoy would establish a team of climate security professionals to address climate security vulnerabilities and serve as the primary federal contact for climate security issues.
Status: 3/12/19, introduced in Senate and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)
The READINESS Act requires the U.S. military to prepare for the effects of extreme weather and climate change-related events. Hurricane damage at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina provide concrete examples of the risk of extreme weather to military readiness. The Act would require installations to have resiliency plans which would outline future risks through the 50-year lifespan of the base and identify projects necessary to mitigate risks.
Status: 4/11/19, introduced in Senate and referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) / Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
The SEAL Act establishes a congressionally charted seaway development corporation in the Arctic. With a warming Arctic and increasing traffic, the SEAL Act would create an organization that would collect voluntary shipping fees from vessels transiting the Arctic. These fees would help fund the infrastructure necessary to ensure security in the region. The U.S. needs to be prepared for the irrefutable fact that the Arctic is becoming more and more accessible. An open Arctic will create vulnerabilities as the U.S. lacks the resources necessary to protect the region and respond to any disasters.
4/11/19, introduced in Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
5/23/19 H.R. 3020 was introduced in House and referred to the House Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) / Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX)
To require the Secretary of Defense to enhance the readiness of the Department of Defense to challenges relating to climate change and to improve the energy and resource efficiency of the Department, and for other purposes.
5/15/19, introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee
5/16/2019 H.R. 2759 was introduced in the House and referred to House Armed Services subcommittee on Readiness
Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
The SEA FUEL Act would direct the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to develop new technologies that will capture carbon dioxide from air and seawater and convert it to clean fuels or other useful products. This legislation was included in the National Defense Authorization Act marked up by the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.
5/23/19, introduced in Senate and referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee
6/13/19 H.R. 3227, a House companion bill, was introduced in the House and referred to the House Armed Services subcommittee on Readiness
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
To direct the President to develop a plan for the United States to meet its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement, and for other purposes.
Status: 6/5/2019, introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA)
To establish a Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy, to authorize the admission of climate-displaced persons, and for other purposes.
Status: 9/26/19, introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
To provide for a regional center for security studies for the Arctic in the Department of Defense, and for other purposes.
Status: 10/24/2019, introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee
Future Legislation: The above are examples of legislation created to address the national security implications of climate change. Other proposals may be proposed in the coming year.
Need to Act: Addressing the threat of climate change and the related geopolitical concerns is vital for our national security. Extreme weather and related climate impacts are degrading our military readiness and lethality. As we rapidly approach the next hurricane season, Tyndall Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune are still struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence last year. Further, as noted in recent testimony by ASP Founder Secretary Chuck Hagel, “while the bases may rebuild over time, the loss of training and readiness cannot be recovered.” ASP has written extensively on the risk of climate change and continues to educate all across the country. Now is the time to prepare for these threats. The above legislation is a solid step forward.