such cases, the National Command Authority might require U.S. naval forces to act alone, without allied forces’ assistance.

This committee has not yet fully explored the views, issues, and capabilities concerning climate change with respect to allied forces, nor has it conducted an assessment of projections involving associated climate-change-related geographic hotspots. The committee’s early assessment of allied partnerships indicates that several countries, especially in Europe, are already assuming strong public military postures on climate change,16 and those countries may be open to the establishment of cooperative partnerships for leveraging capabilities to meet potential global climate-change-related HA/DR needs. The committee plans to address more expansively in its final report issues related to allied partnerships, but it believes that early planning and engagement by U.S. naval leadership with allied partners to address climate change issues are called for.

Finding 1: Scenarios of global climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change project impacts on both developing and developed nations, and such impacts may be destabilizing in many parts of the world. These projected changes would affect U.S. national security and stress naval resources. In particular, naval forces might be required to carry out more frequent humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) missions. At the same time, U.S. naval forces would be expected to execute their ongoing national-security-related military missions and to position themselves for supporting missions in destabilized regions around the globe. Also, it is expected that the demand for U.S. Navy Construction Battalion capability would increase in proportion to the operational tempo of U.S. HA/DR operations.

Recommendation 1: Although the committee has not yet completed its full analysis of the implications of climate change for future Navy force structure, it is clear that the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) needs increasingly to take such implications into account. The committee believes that the CNO should not in the near term specifically fund new force-structure capability to deal with the effects of climate change but should hedge against climate change impacts through planning for the modification of the existing force structure as the climate-change-related requirements become clearer. All of the U.S. naval forces (the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) should begin to consider potential specific force-structure capabilities and training standards over the next 10 years for conducting missions arising from the effects of climate change. In particular, the Navy should review the current and projected Navy Construction Battalion capability and capacity in light of the potential acceleration of the current operational tempo as a result of climate change effects.

Climate Change Impacts on Global Naval Installations

Global sea-level rise is projected to be a major impact of climate change.17 Many naval coastal installations would be affected and would likely require adaptation.


The committee received a briefing on the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence climate-change-related policies and plans from the British Defence Staff of the United States British Embassy, and will pursue discussions with official representatives of other U.S. allies. Related to this, military experts from many nations are increasingly expressing concerns about the need for attention to climate-change-related national security. For example, see “Australian Military Warns of Climate Conflict,” available at Assessed November 24, 2009. See also statements endorsed by military experts of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and India in the October 29, 2009, press release “Military Experts from Five Continents Warn of Impact of Climate Change on Security,” Institute for Environmental Security, Washington, D.C.


See Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson, 2009, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 25-47.

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