Reflection on the Future Leaders Climate Summit
ASP Climate and Security Intern Angus Soderberg was selected to attend the Aspen Institute’s Future Leaders Climate Summit in Miami Beach from March 3-6, 2023. As part of a group of talented young leaders from across the world, Angus had the opportunity to explore potential solutions to the challenges posed by climate change and learn from activists, policymakers, scholars, and entrepreneurs. Following four days of inspiring dialogue and thought-provoking discourse, Angus shares three important considerations for national security:
- Ensure effective implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): Nearly every discussion relating to energy or policy touched on how transformational the IRA’s incentives for clean-energy and equitable investment could be. Yet, regulatory processes and infrastructure need to catch up. For example, the rise in solar and wind development will require coordination with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a more robust transmission network and set of regulations. If met with the requisite infrastructure, supply chains, and regulatory reform, the IRA will improve America’s energy security and help avert the social and economic costs of climate change.
- Ensure Ocean Security: The ocean not only regulates Earth’s climate and acts as the largest carbon sink, but also supports major industries and provides direct nourishment for close to three billion people worldwide. Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing not only harms the ecosystem but threatens food security and regional stability. Compounding this problem, marine pollution has created dead-zones, caused red tides, and increased ocean acidity, threatening the ocean life that blue economies depend on. Furthermore, as countries race to secure critical mineral supply chains, deep-sea mining for critical minerals could have irreversible consequences for the health of our oceans. Indeed, as Leon Panetta put it for The Hill, “natural security is national security.”
- Critical Mineral Supply for the Clean Energy Transition: The imperative to reduce carbon emissions has ramped up the demand for clean energy technology that relies on critical minerals. The mining of these minerals has both negative local effects, such as pollution and tensions between local communities and mining companies, as well as geopolitical concern over China’s control of the rare earth element (REE) supply chain. Advanced computer chips and military technology rely heavily on REEs. The shift to clean energy and green technology has become imbued with a strategic competition narrative, not entirely unlike the competition of the 20th century that relied on foreign oil to project military power, prompting interference in oil-rich nations. While managing strategic competition will require effective diplomacy as the U.S. tries to diversify critical minerals supply chains, implementing extractive industry transparency laws and other actions will help assuage local tensions arising from mining.