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DOD Analysis Highlights Geostrategic Risks of Climate Change

Oct. 21, 2021 | BY OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR STRATEGY, PLANS AND CAPABILITIES

The Defense Department released an unclassified version of the Defense Climate Risk Analysis report today. As the global and cross-cutting consequences of climate change increase the demands on the department, the DCRA provides a starting point for a shared understanding of the strategic and mission risks of climate change and lays out a path forward.

The DCRA was required by Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis At Home and Abroad.‚Äč

Signed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, on Oct. 9, the analysis serves as a critical first step for incorporating climate change security implications across relevant DOD strategy, planning and programming documents and processes. In his statement on the DCRA, Austin highlights that climate change is shaping DOD strategic interests and that the DCRA lays out a path to incorporate climate security considerations at the strategic level. 

The Defense Climate Risk Analysis report cover.
Report Cover
The cover of the Defense Climate Risk Analysis.
Photo By: DOD graphic
VIRIN: 211021-D-D0439-032


At a Department of Energy summit in May, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks said "climate change … [is] simultaneously increasing demands on the force while impacting our capacity to respond to those demands." 

With a focus on how climate change may contribute to demand for DOD missions, the DCRA complements the recently released Climate Adaptation Plan, which is focused on ensuring that DOD can operate under changing climate conditions. Both of these documents highlight how DOD will consider the effects of climate change across every level of what the Department does.

The DCRA was released today as part of a suite of climate security analysis products released by national security institutions, including the first ever National Intelligence Estimate on climate change, the National Security Council-led Report on Climate Change and Migration and the Department of Homeland Security's Strategic Framework for Addressing Climate Change.

Details are provided in the White House fact sheet

Geostrategic and Mission Risks of Climate Change

Across the globe, climate change is contributing to an array of hazards, including higher temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and more frequent, intense and unpredictable extreme weather conditions. The DCRA reviews how climate hazards can lead to national security impacts due to natural or social vulnerabilities. The graphic below illustrates examples of possible connections between climate hazards, impacts and security implications.

A text-filled infographic illustrates possible connections among climate hazards, impacts and security implications.
Climate Change
Examples of possible connections between climate hazards, impacts and security implications.
Photo By: DOD graphic
VIRIN: 211021-D-D0439-023


When climate hazards converge and compound, there will likely be unprecedented challenges for governments — including the U.S. and its allies and partners — to respond. Climate change increases the likelihood of multiple extreme events converging, which can put enormous pressure on any government's capacity to respond, increasing the possibility of cascading security impacts. 

While the effects of climate change are global, specific hazards, impacts and risks associated with climate change will differ by region. The DCRA lays out initial steps for how DOD will integrate the security implications of climate change into key strategic documents, programs and international partner engagements.

DOD, as part of a whole-of-government effort and in coordination with allies and partners, will use the best available science and data to prevent, mitigate, account for and respond to defense and security risks associated with climate change.