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.
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.
Status: 5/2/19 Passed in House
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
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
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
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (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.
Status: 4/11/19 Introduced in Senate
These are just a few examples of the legislation created to address the risk of climate change. It’s likely a number of other proposals will 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.