Americas, Environment

US warns climate change increasingly threatens security

Analyses mark first time US intel community releases report recognizing 'linkage between climate change and migration'

Michael Hernandez   | 21.10.2021
US warns climate change increasingly threatens security


The Biden administration released a series of detailed reports Thursday outlining the increasing threats to national security posed by climate change and its growing effects on migration.

The analyses mark the first time that all 18 US intelligence agencies released a consensus report "officially recognizing and reporting on the linkage between climate change and migration," a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the release.

"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, to livelihoods, and well-being," the official said.

The National Intelligence Estimate follows an executive order issued by US President Joe Biden shortly after he assumed office in January mandating the intelligence community report back on climate.

The "central recommendation" being made in the estimate is that the US establish an interagency process to assist with the formation of Washington's climate policy, the official said.

The National Security Council is establishing that group, which the White House said will be tasked with coordinating US "efforts to mitigate and respond to migration resulting from the impacts of climate change."

"Given that climate-induced weather extremes will grow in severity in unexpected ways, this working group will provide a venue for developing long-term strategies consistent with the evolving scientific understanding of climate impacts, such as those communicated through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Assessment," it added.

In addition to the intelligence estimate, the Pentagon released its analysis of the effects climate change has on its mission while the Department of Homeland Security released a strategic framework "to lead adaptation to changes in the climate risk landscape resulting from strategic competition, demographic trends, aging infrastructure, and emerging technology."

Climate change is resulting in increasingly extreme weather patterns, whether it be drought or extreme rain events, or rising sea levels that threaten seaside communities. The western US has been particularly hard-hit by escalating wildfires in water-starved areas, and the northeast is seeing repeated instances of extreme rains leading to mass flooding.

The White House said the analyses lay out three main risk areas posed by climate change, including "increased geopolitical tension as countries argue over who should be doing more, and how quickly, and compete in the ensuing energy transition."

The other two areas involve increased cross-border geopolitical "flashpoints" from climate change's physical fallout and increased instability in nations and regions.

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