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How the US National Security Policy incorporates climate change – Interview with Alice Hill

Hill states, that this considers close cooperation between different agencies to identify areas of risk and organise resource allocation effectively.

This interview was conducted at the Planetary Security Conference in The Hague, 5-6 December 2016.

"The United States defense and national security community has been looking at the risks posed by climate change to fragile states. If we can find a way to overlay the climate risks on top of what are known as fragile states, we can better direct our aid, our support to ensure that those countries can withstand what we know are very, very damaging and destabilizing impacts of climate change. So the president [Obama] signed an executive order requiring all of our science, intelligence and policy agencies creating national security policy to incorporate considerations of climate risks. That would of course help us to better understand what the risks are to fragile states.

We need to make sure that national security policy incorporates consideration of known climate risks: drought, wildfire, increased storms, even ocean acidification. And the way we do that is we knit together our intelligence agencies, our science agencies as well as most importantly our policy makers to make sure that for our policy procedures plans we look at these impacts of climate change and what destabilizing impacts they could have on areas of strategic interest to us in the United States and also we need to look at a global security perspective how incredibly risky what is occurring to our climate is to the stability of the world.

The Department of Defense has looked across all regions of the globe and required its combatant command’s, its regional centers, to look at resource allocation and needs to make sure that they can better address the impacts that will occur. So for example humanitarian missions are other operations that may require military intervention. That is where we know that we need to be militarily prepared.

We also have looked at our own military installations. You cannot be ready as a nation if your military installations are under water and we know that we have at least a 130 of them that are at risk from sea level rise and one of our most important military installations in the United States is at great risk from subsidence as well as sea level rise. So in the Northfolk Hampton roads area we are literally sinking. That is the largest naval station in the world. We have 20% of our home fleet in that area. We need to address it. We need to make sure that we are ready to provide security to the United States as well as the humanitarian support that we so proudly take on as a mission for the United States."