Secretary of Defense on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III released a statement on President Biden’s call Wednesday to include climate considerations as an essential element of national security:

“I fully support the President’s direction [Wednesday] to include climate considerations as an essential element of our national security and to assess the impacts of climate change on our security strategies, operations, and infrastructure.

Since 2010, the Department of Defense has acknowledged that the planet’s changing climate has a dramatic effect on our missions, plans, and installations. Every year, we see the consequences of increasing incidents of flooding, drought, wildfires, and extreme weather events on our installations at home.

“Every year, our commanders and their Allies and partners conduct operations that result from instability in societies strained by desertification, the threat of adversary access to homelands through the Arctic, and the demands for humanitarian assistance worldwide. In 2019 alone, the Department assessed climate-related impacts to 79 installations and in every geographic Combatant Command area of responsibility.

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“We know first-hand the risk that climate change poses to national security because it affects the work we do every day.

“The Department will immediately take appropriate policy actions to prioritize climate change considerations in our activities and risk assessments, to mitigate this driver of insecurity. As directed by the President, we will include the security implications of climate change in our risk analyses, strategy development, and planning guidance.

“As a leader in the interagency, the Department of Defense will also support incorporating climate risk analysis into modeling, simulation, wargaming, analysis, and the next National Defense Strategy.

“And by changing how we approach our own carbon footprint, the Department can also be a platform for positive change, spurring the development of climate-friendly technologies at scale.

“There is little about what the Department does to defend the American people that is not affected by climate change. It is a national security issue, and we must treat it as such.”

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