National Security Council Puts Climate Change Threat 'Front and Center'

Craig Bannister | January 11, 2017
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Pres. Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice declared climate change to be a top threat to U.S. security on Tuesday as she "passed the baton" to her successor.

Rice, who oversees the National Security Council staff, chairs the Cabinet level National Security Principals Committee and provides the president’s daily national security briefing, said she was “especially proud” to have shifted security priorities to climate change, thus downgrading threats like terrorism:

“I’m especially proud that we put the ultimate borderless threat - the threat of climate change - front and center, rallying the world to achieve the Paris agreement, which has the potential to put the planet on a path to a sustainable future.

“We’ve begun to integrate climate impacts into our national security planning.  Thanks in part to our Clean Power Plan, new energy efficiency standards, and unprecedented investments in clean energy, carbon emissions are down 9 percent since President Obama took office, while the U.S. economy has grown over 10 percent.”

The reshuffling of priorities was necessary because, “Global action on climate change had not matched the magnitude of the threat” prior to Obama taking office, Rice said, adding that the “conception of national security” has been “broadened”:

“Recognizing that borderless challenges will only increase—from cyber attacks to the dangers arising from fragile states to climate change—we have broadened our conception of national security.”

Rice equated climate change with health epidemics, drugs and guns, as one of the country’s most dangerous “transnational threats”:

“First, Americans face a more diverse array of threats, from a more diverse range of sources, than ever.  This includes everything from state actors such as Russia and North Korea to terrorists like ISIL, often enabled by new technologies.  And, it includes transnational threats that can reach our shores—climate change, epidemics like Ebola, or the illicit flow of drugs and weapons.”

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