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Government Unveils Suite of Analyses on Climate Change

October 21, 2021 by TWN Staff
Emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Independence, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Several federal agencies representing the core of the executive branch’s national security and foreign policy apparatus, are releasing a suite of reports on the impact of climate change at home and abroad, and particularly on how to deal with the refugees a changing world climate is sure to create.

“These analyses will serve as a foundation for our critical work on climate and security moving forward,” a senior administration official said in a call with reporters Wednesday night.

“It is important to flag that these analyses reinforce the President’s commitment to the United States: making evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data,” the official said.

The first of four reports released Thursday is the National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change. 

“For those of you that may not be familiar with this product, the NIE is the most authoritative assessment from the intelligence community and represents the consensus view of all 18 intelligence community elements,” the official said.

“Climate change will increasingly exacerbate a number of risks to U.S. national security interests from both physical impacts that could cascade into security challenges, to how countries respond to the climate challenge,” the official added.

The three broad categories of risks identified in the NIE include: increased geopolitical tension as countries argue over who should be doing more and how quickly, and compete in the ensuing energy transition; the risk of cross-border geopolitical flashpoints as countries take steps to secure their interests; and the risk of climate effects straining country-level stability in select countries and regions of concern. 

“The intelligence community judges that all of these risks will increase and that no country will be spared from the challenges directly related to climate change,” the official said. 

The second report is the Defense Department’s Climate Risk Analysis. This is the first Department of Defense report focused on the strategic and mission implications of climate change.

The third product is the Department of Homeland Security Strategic Framework to Address Climate Change.  

DHS is releasing a Strategic Framework for Addressing Climate Change to govern the department’s efforts to combat the climate crisis. The Strategic Framework builds on DHS’s Climate Action Plan and applies to strategy, plans, policy, and budgets across the department’s agencies. 

The report will include what the official described as “five lines of effort.”  

The first is empowering individuals and communities to develop climate resilience. The second will be building readiness to respond to increases in climate-driven emergencies. The third, incorporating climate science into strategy, policy, programs, and budgets. The fourth, investing in a sustainable and resilient Department of Homeland Security. And the fifth, ensuring that the DHS workforce is informed by climate change. 

The fourth and final product is a first-of-its-kind U.S. government assessment of the impact climate change is having on human migration.  

The report identifies migration as an important form of adaptation to the impacts of climate change and, in some cases, an essential response to climate threats — response to climate threats, to livelihoods and wellbeing.

It will highlight the geopolitical implications of this migration, the need for foreign assistance, the protection and resettlement of affected individuals, and multilateral engagement.

“The report will also talk about how addressing individuals’ human security can decrease the likelihood of migration and second-order implications for international security,” the official said.

The report will also underscore that it is critical to approach these efforts in a way that acknowledges that in almost all cases, climate change is not the sole driver of migration.

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