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DOD Serves as Key Interagency Partner in Whole-of-Government Response to Climate Change

Aerial view of a five-sided building photographed at twilight.
An aerial view of the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., May 15, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza
VIRIN: 230515-D-PM193-1931Y

The Defense Department remains committed to ensuring operational resilience and maintaining the United States' warfighting edge amid the rising challenges posed by climate change.  

From rising sea levels to the increasing occurrence of weather-driven natural disasters, climate change is reshaping the strategic landscape and introducing new risks to U.S. and allied interests throughout the globe.   

"Climate change is a national security issue, and for the national security community, that declaration is not controversial — it's fact," Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said last summer in her address during the Sustainable Infrastructure, Resilience and Climate Consortium at the U.S. Military Academy. 

The magnitude of those challenges has continued to increase year by year, and officials warn that failing to meet them head-on would have far-reaching impacts on military readiness.  

"You can't train for combined operations with allies and partners if the training facilities are flooded," Hicks said. "You can't run an installation without water because you're in a drought and you can't adequately prepare for future threats if you're occupied with urgent crises." 

In order to train, fight and win in this increasingly complex environment, DOD has taken broad steps to address climate related risks at every level of the enterprise. 

A line of solar panels reflect the sun on a partly cloudy day.
Solar Array
A 350 kilowatt-hour solar array was installed near the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, June 25, 2021. Rocky Mountain Power built the array and will own and operate it for the next 25 years as part of its Blue Sky program. The base will add the energy generated to its power grid.
Photo By: Cynthia Griggs, Hill Air Force Base
VIRIN: 210625-F-EF974-1004Y

Those efforts align with President Joe Biden's framework for building a whole-of-government effort to address climate change including a directive to federal agencies to develop climate adaptation plans as well as annual progress reports in meeting those plans. 

On Friday, the White House released updated climate adaptation plans from several federal agencies that highlight efforts across the government in response to climate change. 

"As communities face extreme heat, natural disasters and severe weather from the impacts of climate change, President Biden is delivering record resources to build climate resilience across the country," Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said. "By updating our own adaptation strategies, the federal government is leading by example to build a more resilient future for all." 

DOD adaptation efforts continue to be driven by five key lines of effort established in the department's 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan:

  • Making climate-informed decisions to ensure DOD can meet national defense requirements.
  • Preparing combat forces to operate under the most extreme and adverse weather and terrain conditions, equipping the force to face emerging conditions that differ from the range of environments known today.
  • Building resilient infrastructure that enables DOD to execute its mission, sustain its forces and maintain mission readiness.
  • Achieving supply chain optimization, innovation and resilience, lessening the vulnerability of missions, installations and operations to the effects of a changing climate.
  • Enhancing adaptation and resilience through collaboration with allies and partners. 

A person in civilian attire stands at a lectern outdoors as people seated under tents watch.
Brendan Owens
Brendan Owens, assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, announces a new agreement between the Defense Department and an East Coast-based utility company to provide carbon pollution-free energy to installations throughout North and South Carolina, during a ceremony at Fort Liberty, N.C., June 18, 2024.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Cory Reese
VIRIN: 240618-A-SM410-1020Y

DOD is building upon these efforts in its 2024-2027 climate adaptation plan, to be released later this summer. This update outlines further steps to ensure the department can operate under changing climate conditions while preserving operational capability and enhancing the natural and human-made systems essential to its success. 

For more information:

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