Pentagon working group to address climate change as national security threat

The Pentagon. Image: archive/

March 10 (UPI) — The Defense Department supports a White House executive order prioritizing climate change, the Secretary of Defense said in a memo released Wednesday by the Pentagon.

Austin’s letter directs the establishment of a Climate Working Group within the Defense Department to coordinate Pentagon responses to a January executive order from President Joe Biden, as well as a tracking protocol to measure implementation of climate and energy goals.

“Climate change presents a growing threat to U.S. national security interests and defense objections. The changing climate is altering the global security and operating environments, impacting our missions, plans and installations,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told senior Pentagon leadership and commanders of combatant commands in a memo dated March 9.

“The department will act immediately to include the security implications of climate change in our risk analyses, strategy development and planning guidance,” Austin said in the memo, which directs the establishment, as well as spells out membership, of the DoD Climate Working Group.

Biden’s executive order includes a comprehensive approach to cooperation between government agencies, countries and non-governmental organizations.

Biden specifically charged the Secretary of Defense with coordinating with cabinet members, technological offices and other agencies to develop “an analysis of the security implications of climate change (Climate Risk Analysis) that can be incorporated into modeling, simulation, war-gaming, and other analyses” within 120 days.

Biden signaled his intent to seriously consider climate considerations on Jan. 20, the day of his inauguration, when one of 17 executive orders he signed mandated that the United States will rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Austin’s action follows a 2020 report after a study on military supply chains by the General Accountability Office.

The 45-page report called for Defense Department incorporation of “climate adaptation into its acquisition and supply guidance.”

“Whether it is increasing platform efficiency to improve freedom of action in contested logistics environments, or deploying new energy solutions to strengthen resilience of key capabilities at installations, our mission objectives are well aligned with our climate goals,” Austin said in the March 9 memo.


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