The intelligence community is familiar with climate security. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has long been interested in climate security. In 2019 alone, the intelligence community testified at least five times at hearings on the implications of climate change on US national security. The CIA formerly operated the Center on Climate Change and National Security, which closed its doors in 2012. The 2008 National Intelligence Assessment said,
“We judge that the most significant impact for the United States will be indirect and result from climate-driven effects on many other countries and their potential to seriously affect US national security interests.”
On June 5, 2019, Rep. Heck (D-WA) introduced the Climate Security Intelligence Act of 2019 (H.R. 3110). The original cosponsors include Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Welch (D-VT), Rep. Himes (D-CT), and Rep. Carson (D-IN). There are currently 13 total cosponsors.
The purpose of H.R. 3110 is the amend the National Security Act of 1947 to establish a Climate Security Intelligence Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Climate Security Intelligence Center would serve as the primary organization within the intelligence community for analyzing climate security threats and the climate influence of the US and identifying and disseminating climate intelligence indications and warnings. Furthermore, the Center would submit a biennial report to congressional intelligence committees on the activities and findings of the Center over the course of the two-year period.
A modified version of H.R. 3110 is included in the intelligence reauthorization legislation (H.R. 3494), which was introduced on June 26, 2019. H.R. 3494 calls for a Climate Security Advisory Council, rather than a Climate Security Intelligence Center. The Council will assist intelligence analysts with analysis of climate security and its impact, facilitate coordination between the elements of the intelligence community collecting and analyzing climate security information, and ensure that the intelligence community is adequately prioritizing climate change in its analysis. The Council will have members from across the intelligence community and rest of government. Finally, the Council will sunset four years after the enactment of H.R. 3494. On July 17, the House passed H.R. 3494 by 397-31. The Senate is considering passage of their own Intelligence reauthorization bill.
Addressing the threat of climate change and the related geopolitical concerns is vital for our national security. Extreme weather and related climate effects are a threat to military readiness. As noted in testimony by ASP Founder Secretary Chuck Hagel, “while the bases may rebuild over time, the loss of training and readiness cannot be recovered.” ASP’s new website examines the threat climate change poses to US military infrastructure and makes recommendations on how to mitigate these threats. Further, ASP has written extensively on the risk of climate change and continues to educate all across the country.