DOD: Climate Change ‘Essential Element’ of Foreign Policy, National Security

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: U.S. Army (retired) General Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his conformation hearing to be the next Secretary of Defense on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Austin is the first African-American to have headed U.S. Central Command. (Photo by Jim …
Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday it is assembling a “climate working group” following President Joe Biden’s executive order.

“Yesterday the secretary established the Department of Defense climate working group to support Executive Order 14008, which identified climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security,” Pentagon Press Secretary Mike Kirby said at a briefing.

“Mr. Joe Bryan, special assistant to the secretary for climate, will be the working group chair,” Kirby said. “The climate working group will be the primary form to do a couple of things. One, to coordinate department responses to the executive order and subsequent climate- and energy-related directives.”

“And two, track the implementation of actions and progress against future goals,” Kirby said. “We’re going to post the establishment memo on defense.gov.”

Tech Crunch reported more details about the new working group:

Bryan, who previously served as deputy assistant to the Secretary of the Navy for Energy under the Obama administration, will oversee a group intended to coordinate the Department’s responses to Biden’s recent executive order and subsequent climate and energy-related directives and track implementation of climate and energy-related actions and progress, according to a statement.

The Department of Defense controls the purse strings for hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending and is a huge consumer of electricity, oil and gas, and industrial materials. Any steps it takes to improve the efficiency of its supply chain, reduce the emissions profile of its fleet of vehicles, and use renewable energy to power operations could make a huge contribution to the commercialization of renewable and sustainable technologies and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Pentagon is already including security implications of climate change in its risk analyses, strategy development and planning guidance, according to the statement, and is including those risk analyses in its installation planning, modeling, simulation and war gaming, and the National Defense Strategy.

“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,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “The department will leverage that alignment to modernize the force, strengthen our supply chains, identify opportunities to work closely with allies and partners, and compete with China for the energy technologies that are essential to our future success.”

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