The Department of Defense released a plan Friday regarding the effects of climate change on military operations and national security.
The Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan outlines goals for taking steps to mitigate the risk on operations posed by climate change effects by “managing the unavoidable and preparing for the possible,” officials said in announcing the plan’s release.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called climate change a future trend that will affect U.S. national security and how the military executes its missions, including being increasingly called upon to respond to natural disasters.
Hagel has highlighted Hampton Roads as one area under threat.
“We see recurrent flooding today, and we are beginning to work to address a projected sea level rise of 1.5 feet over the next 20 to 50 years,” he said in releasing the department’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap earlier this year.
John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, says this is one example that shows the department is going to have to adjust to accommodate environmental change.
“There are projections that we have out to 30 years where we’re looking at a foot or two feet of sea level rises in that particular area,” he said. “That will affect some of our infrastructure, but it’s not going to make the base useless.”
A comprehensive review of all U.S. installations will be conducted to assess the potential impact that climate change could have on the thousands of buildings, bases and other sites owned by the department.
The report also describes how the DoD will use different practices — including reducing energy demand — that, along with efforts by partner nations, are intended to move military operations away from vulnerabilities such as relying on traditional petroleum and electricity networks, resources that increasingly are at risk in some parts of the world.