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📄 "The Military’s Net-Zero Aspirations"

The Carbon Copy

Photo by Filip Andrejevic / Unsplash

Host: Stephen Lacey
Guest: Erin Sikorsky | Director | The Center for Climate and Security
Category: 📄 Climate Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:17] ES: “When I was leading [intelligence] teams looking at the Middle East and Sub Saharan Africa, as my analysts were trying to figure out what was going to drive risks of conflict, or instability in these states and what kind of warning we needed to provide to US policymakers about that, time and time again, environmental and climate related concerns were coming up. And I realized it was something that we needed to dig into more and better understand.”

[3:15] ES: “You can predict with fairly high confidence at certain temperature levels what the physical risks will be on the planet from climate change, sea level rise, extreme weather events, temperatures, heat waves. But what you can't predict as much as what humans will do in response.”

[5:56] SL: “This month, the Army issued a report on how it plans to deal with new challenges in a rapidly warming world. […] The report is short. It doesn't make specific money requests. But […] there's a lot of new details about how to slash army emissions, use clean distributed energy for tactical benefits and elevate climate experts.”

[6:18] ES: “I was impressed with the level of detail, of the ambition of some of the provisions on micro grid on every army installation and base, a move to all electric non-tactical vehicles by […] 2027, making sure to hire people at the headquarters level who have a strong climate science and climate security background. All of those I think are good steps forward for the army and set a good standard then for the other services to follow. And again, a model for other allies and partners to follow as well.”

[7:25] ES: “In the 90s, the intelligence community stood up a program called MEDEA, which was meant to link climate scientists with the CIA and with satellite imagery collection. So that climate scientists could use that imagery to make historical assessments of how the climate has changed. […] Fast forward to now and really, we're in a different place where the intelligence community needs to bring in those climate scientists […] [to share] how the world is changing, and help the intelligence community integrate that into their work. The Department of Defense […] back in the 90s […] started using the term threat multiplier. That [means that] climate change was going to intersect with other threats and exacerbate them, so make threats of political instability or conflict of concern over water access or food access worse than they already were. […] Since then, the DoD has continued to deepen and expand its work on climate change.”

[9:58] ES: “The military has thought about [climate change] in multiple ways over the years. First, thinking about it in terms of resilience and infrastructure. What does climate change mean for our military bases? For our ability to operate in different locations around the world? […] I would say now, it's expanded beyond that kind of direct impact to a more sophisticated understanding of how climate change shapes other risks and threats, whether it's competition with a country like China, or Russia, or whether it is risks of political instability in the Middle East, as we saw after the Arab Spring and the the civil war in Syria, and the role that that drought played there and driving internal migration and then driving instability within that country. And how the kinds of operations that the military will be called [will look like] both in terms of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions abroad […] as well as here at home.”

[11:35] ES: “I think a lot of the ambition around mitigation or cutting emissions is new. […] I think the other piece of the puzzle here is the adaptation and resilience side, because there are some changes baked into the system now given the level of carbon that's in the atmosphere, and where we are already. ”

[20:59] ES: “We focus so much on the risks of climate change and national security, but I will say there are opportunities as well, by bringing a climate lens to peacebuilding, for example, to preventing conflict, to try and intervene before instability or conflict happens. Bringing in an understanding of what it means for there to be more extreme weather in a community or more droughts or less access to water and getting ahead of the problem. […] With climate, […] we have models that will show us 5, 10, 15 years down the road at different temperature levels and what to expect. […] Those predictive capabilities are a huge power, […] [which] gives me hope as well, because if we can use those tools, we can get ahead of these problems, and work to try and prepare and manage them.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 24 min | 🗓️ 02/23/2022
✅ Time saved: 22 min

Additional Links:
US Army Climate Strategy (2022)