As Congress returns from recess, a major piece of defence legislation is up for consideration that could prove to be invaluable for those looking to the US to fight climate change.
The annual National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), which specifies defence spending as well as foreign policy goals, will be debated in the Senate and the fact it normally gets bipartisan support means it becomes a lightning rod for different policies. This year, one of the amendments – if it is voted through – calls on the Pentagon to produce a report on the security risks posed by climate change.
It will now be up to the Senate to pass the act with or without the Langevin amendment – but if it passes the signal it sends will be at odds with those put out by the Trump adminsitration up unil now.
Debate had been opened on the bill prior to the recess, however it was the same day as a crucial vote on the Republican replacement for Obamacare and debate quickly shifted back to healthcare on the Senate floor.
Donald Trump has begun the formal process to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, a global accord signed by nearly 200 countries to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries adjust to an already-changed planet.
The move was criticised by several countries’ leaders and in response nearly a thousand CEOs and American mayors vowed to keep fighting climate change, even without the federal government’s help.
At the same time, Mr Trump also increased the US defence budget and recently requested a troop surge for Afghanistan while proposing dramatic cuts to diplomatic functions at the State Department.
These may seem like unrelated issues but as Francesco Femia, President of the Washington-based Center for Climate and Security, reminded The Independent: “the Pentagon has, since at least as far back as 2003, taken climate change seriously.”
At least four of Mr Trump’s top military counsel: Defence Secretary James Mattis, Assistant Defence Secretary Lucian Niemeyer, Secretary of the Navy Richard V Spencer, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva have all “reaffirmed” the connection, according to Mr Femia.
Even the 2014 Quadrennial Defence Review, done ahead of the December 2015 Paris Agreement, stated that climate change “will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist…