May 15, 2019

Warren, Escobar Announce Legislation to Require Dept. of Defense to Adapt to Climate Change Threat

Bicameral Bill Would Strengthen Military Readiness by Making DOD Infrastructure and Operations More Energy Efficient and Resilient to Climate Change; DOD Would Be Required to Achieve Net Zero Emissions from Non-Combat Bases and Infrastructure by 2030

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Representative Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today announced the Department of Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act. The bicameral legislation, which will be formally introduced this week, would require the Department of Defense (DoD) to adapt its infrastructure and operations to address climate change and improve energy efficiency in order to strengthen military readiness.

The Department of Defense has recognized the threat of climate change for years. For example, the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report summarized that climate change will pose threats to the nation's coastal infrastructure and require adjustments to DoD facilities and operations, and a report issued earlier this year reaffirmed this assessment. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, eight different military leaders have publicly confirmed to Senator Warren the threat that climate change already poses to U.S. national security and strategic interests around the world and the need to address it.

"Climate change is a national security threat and adapting to it is essential to maintaining our military readiness," said Senator Warren. "Our bill will help us confront this threat with the urgency it deserves through adaption of our military's infrastructure and operations to climate change and enhanced energy efficiency."

"Our military has already begun the important work of addressing the risks of a changing climate, but we need to do more to address this exceptional challenge," said Congresswoman Escobar. "The DoD Resiliency and Readiness Act is a bold proposal that will accelerate our military efforts, ensuring that we can better anticipate and respond to the threats posed by climate change and work strategically toward true resiliency."

The Department of Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act would require the DoD to take specific actions to adapt to climate change and improve energy efficiency:

  • Achieve net zero energy use by United States and overseas installations not supporting combat operations by 2030, so that these installations produce as much renewable energy as the total energy consumed.
  • Include in its annual base budget proposal to Congress a stream of dedicated funds for adapting to and mitigating climate change-related risks to military networks, systems, installations, facilities, and other assets and capabilities.
    • Include an assessment of the effects of climate change on military readiness, with an estimate of the financial costs of damage to bases and other infrastructure resulting from climate change-related events over the preceding year.
  • Include in its Annual Energy Management and Resilience Report (AEMRR) a list of military installations within each military service that emit the most carbon and an estimate of total energy consumption by the DoD.
  • Consider the effects of climate change and contractors' energy efficiency performance when determining whether to enter into any contract.
    • The DoD must submit to Congress a written estimate of the total energy consumption of all work to be performed under any contract and a determination of whether the contractor verifiably produces as much renewable energy as the total energy it consumes in its operations.
    • In any DoD contract, regardless of monetary value, the contractor must pay the DoD a fee equal to one percent of the value of the contract if the contractor has not achieved net zero energy at the time of the contract's solicitation.
    • These fees will finance a new Energy and Climate Resiliency Fund, which is dedicated for improvements that adapt military networks, systems, installations, facilities, and other assets and capabilities to climate change.
  • Develop a Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Tool to ensure that the military uses a credible methodology, consistent with the prevailing scientific consensus, to determine how climate change-related risks impact military networks, systems, installations, facilities, and other assets, as well as the operational plans and capabilities.
  • Submit an annual report to Congress on the climate change vulnerabilities of bases and other military assets, including a score that quantifies the vulnerabilities of every DoD base (domestic and overseas), and publish an unclassified version of this annual report online.
  • Consider climate change-related risks when deciding where to locate a military installation and where to position equipment, infrastructure and other military assets.
  • Invest in a new, ten-year research, development, and demonstration program on energy storage, hybrid microgrid, and energy resiliency.
  • Consider current and potential vulnerabilities of military installations to climate change in any future process of base realignment and closure (BRAC).
  • Create an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy and Climate Resiliency within the office of the Secretary of Defense and an equivalent position within each military department.
"Senator Warren and Representative Escobar's bill is a bold and vital proposal to require the Department of Defense to take the action science demands by ensuring the military remains prepared in the face of the climate crisis and does its part to slash all of its climate pollution," said Liz Martin Perera, Climate Policy Director at the Sierra Club.

The Department of Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act is the latest example of how Senator Warren has been a leading voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee calling for actions to combat climate change. In April 2019, Senator Warren sent a letter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., summarizing almost two years of questions she has asked eight military leaders during multiple SASC hearings that revealed unanimous concern about the rising threat of climate change to the United States military's missions, operational plans, installations, and overall readiness. Earlier that month, she and Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) wrote to the Government Accountability Office calling for a review of potential threats to national security resulting from the impacts of climate change on defense contractors and the defense supply chain, and a review of the extent to which the DoD addresses climate change and other environmental risks during the contracting process. The GAO has since accepted the senators' request.

In September 2018, Senator Warren introduced the Climate Risk Disclosure Act to require public companies to disclose critical information about their exposure to climate change-related risks.