President Biden’s recent Leaders Summit on Climate highlighted the clear and compelling link between climate instability and our national security. The White House made a key theme of the summit the need to “address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness.” For the United States, climate impacts on our military operations, service members, economy and global stability will erode our standing on the world stage and our ability to project U.S. power.
Fourteen years ago, during the George W. Bush administration, the CNA Military Advisory Board, in collaboration with scientists and analysts at CNA, released our first report on the national security threats from climate change.
Representing our nation’s most senior military leaders, the board concluded that “climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.” We also determined that less demand for fossil fuels like diesel and jet fuel would make our combat forces more effective and less vulnerable in the battlespace. Too few U.S. leaders heeded those warnings and recommendations in the intervening years. Now that seems to be changing.