On January 14, 2016, the Department of Defense released a new directive on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience. Officially, DoD Directive 4715.21 codifies and establishes the policies necessary to assess and manage the risks of climate change.
In a December event at the American Security Project, on Department of Defense Action on Climate Change, Maureen Sullivan, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment, Safety & Occupational Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations & Environment), discussed this Directive. She pointed out that the DoD is undertaking a vulnerability survey, aiming to asses over 7,000 sites worldwide.
This directive builds off the DoD’s Climate Adaptation Roadmap, announced in October, 2014. Where the Roadmap gave a broad overview of the issues and problems, this directive gets into the nitty-gritty of how the military will prepare for climate change. It assigns certain roles and responsibilities to the different offices within the DoD, and ensures that climate change is incorporated into all aspects of military planning.
This directive will go a long way to ensuring that planning for the effects of climate change is resilient to political changes. This is an important step forward, and the military deserves credit for attacking the issue of climate change head-on.