Climate Change Is National Security Priority for Biden’s Pentagon

The Pentagon will now consider climate change as a priority and will declare it as a “national security issue,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday.

The announcement came shortly after President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders to cut oil, gas, and coal emissions and double energy production from offshore wind turbines. The action marks a distinct reversal from the Trump administration’s approach to “climate change,” Fox News reported. 

In a statement, Austin said the Department of Defense (DOD) “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 now 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,” he said.

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

President Biden’s executive orders target federal subsidies for oil and other fossil fuels and halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters. They also aim to conserve 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years and move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet.

Biden said his administration will be giving former Secretary of State John Kerry a new role with the National Security Council, where he will focus entirely on the issue.

Biden’s climate change plan will no doubt lead to huge job losses in oil- and coal-producing states from moves to sharply increase U.S. reliance on clean energy such as wind and solar power.

“We can’t wait any longer” to address the climate crisis, Biden said at the White House. “We see with our own eyes. We know it in our bones. It is time to act.”

A material needed in solar panel production is polysilicon and China has 80 percent of the world’s capacity. In 2019, about one-third of the polysilicon used to make solar panels came from Xinjiang, the region in which China is abusing Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

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