Pentagon releases its climate adaptation roadmap

The Department of Defense of United States on Monday (Oct. 13) published a report assessing climate-related impacts that will affect US military activities and infrastuctures. The DoD took a stronger stance on climate change compared with previous analyses, saying that “climate change will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the Nation and poses immediate risks to US national security”.

It is not the first time the US military address the problem, but Monday’s report gives further details on how the army is planning to adapt. In its latest Quadriennial Defense Review, released in March, the Pentagon defined climate change a “threat multiplier” and “a critical component of future US defense strategy”, adding that it was preparing the military to operate in “the resource-stressed world of the future, where the frequency and severity of climate disasters continue to grow”. In June the Government Accountability Office recommended the Pentagon to set plans and deadlines in order to assess which US military bases are vulnerable to climate change. “We have nearly completed a baseline survey to assess the vulnerability of our military’s more than 7,000 bases, installations and other facilities,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated on Monday, presenting the new Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap  at the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas in Peru.“Drawing on these assessments, we will integrate climate change considerations into our planning, operations and training”, Hagel said.

The roadmap [pdf] provides a detailed list of how the changing climate affects the Department’s operations, training and testing, infrastructures, acquisition and supply chain of equipment and services. In order to address those risks, the DoD said a review of directives, manuals and guidance documents is already underway, and new criteria have already been applied in rebuilding damaged infrastuctures, such as “upgrading to more wind-resistant structures, buring utility lines underground, changing storage locations for chemicals used in low-lying wastewater treatment plants, protecting water supply wells, and removing vulnerable trees”. In the document, the DoD said it will “continue efforts to intergate climate considerations into programs, operations, plans and processes”, and it will “promote delinerate collaboration with stakeholders”, including “Federal, State, local, tribal and international agencies and organizations”, in addressing climate change challenges. “The Department cannot effectively assess its vulnerabilities and implement adaptive responses at its installations if neighboring communities are not part of the process”, the report says. “The Department’s decisions and those of neighboring communities are intrinsecally interconnected”.