WASHINGTON – In response to President Donald Trump’s recent efforts to undermine the prudent use of climate change data and forecasting in national security planning and analysis, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Committee Ranking Member U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) who led nine other Democrats, including all of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, in introducing legislation to ensure that misguided political ideology on climate change does not compromise the quality of U.S. intelligence and national security strategies.

The introduction of The Climate Security Act of 2019 follows recent reports that National Security Council Senior Director, William Happer, an outspoken climate-change denier, is working on an Executive Order for the Trump Administration to “reassess” the threat of climate change and contradict the current consensus within the national intelligence community. 

Joining Murphy and Menendez as co-sponsors to The Climate Security Act of 2019 are U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). 

“Climate change is real. Period. And it isn’t just an existential threat to this planet, it’s also a national security threat,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to support Senator Menendez’s Climate Security Act because it develops fact-based, scientific solutions to address the threat countries all around the world are facing as it relates to climate change. President Trump and those around him continue to deny the clear and present danger of climate change, so it’s up to Congress to step up where this White House won’t.”

“Climate change is a threat to New Jersey, to the United States, and to the security and stability of our world. It’s a challenge we cannot afford to ignore,” said Menendez. “Whether it’s disruptions to the food supply or forced migration from sea level rise or destruction wreaked by more powerful storms, climate change will likely exacerbate conflict and humanitarian crises around the world. National Security planning and analysis is only as good as the intelligence it is based on, and given the dangerously cavalier attitude this administration has towards the very real dangers of climate change, Congress must act to ensure politics doesn’t put our national security at risk.” 

Just last week, more than 50 former senior military and national security officials  security officials, including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, penned a letter to the President emphasizing the need to include climate change in national security planning. The Climate Security Act of 2019 provides the statutory muscle necessary to address this need. 

For decades, and across both Democratic and Republican administrations, the integration of climate change data and forecasting has grown increasingly important and relevant to accurate national security planning and intelligence gathering. In 2014, the Department of Defense, in its Quadrennial Defense Review, labelled the effects of climate change as a “threat multiplier” that both creates technical challenges for military readiness and increases shocks and stresses in vulnerable countries currently in or on the verge of conflict. 

Key provisions of The Climate Security Act of 2019 include:

  • Establishing a “Climate Security Envoy” within the State Department responsible for developing strategies for improving the integration of climate change science, data and forecasting in national security operations as well as facilitating interagency collaboration between the federal government’s science and security agencies. 
  • Outlining policies for how climate change data and forecasting should inform national security planning and analysis, while calling for periodic global assessments on the risks climate change poses to national and global security. 
  • Formally reestablishing the Special Envoy for the Arctic. The Arctic region is undergoing rapid and dramatic changes due to climate change, which in turn is creating new security challenges, driven by aggressive expansion of Russian influence and naval activity in the region that requires specials attention from the State Department in the form of this Special Envoy. President Trump dismantled the Special Envoy to the Arctic’s office in 2017.