Honoring Memorial Day With Energy and Climate Security

Chris Carnevale | May 27, 2016 | Climate Change, Energy Policy

If you enjoy the blog post below, please join us on Thursday, June 2 at 11:00 am, EDT, for a free webinar on national security and climate change in partnership with the Center for Climate & Security, with presentations by General Ron Keys, USAF (ret), Commander David “Deke” Slayton, USN (ret), and Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby, USMC (ret). Register here.


Memorial Day reminds us that those in the military serve and sacrifice everyday to keep our nation strong. We at SACE believe that the military’s work to address the effects of climate change and to advance energy security is a critical part of that strength and we wish to highlight the important work they are doing in this area.

The U.S. Department of Defense has identified climate change as a key security risk facing our nation as well as those around the world. DoD said in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, “The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

The Department of Homeland Security and top-ranking intelligence community officials agree with the DoD’s assessment. For example, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, says that climate change contributes to “extreme water and food stress that can destabilize governments […] Terrorists, militants and international crime groups are certain to use declining local food security to gain legitimacy and undermine government authority.”

Meanwhile recent films have highlighted the security-climate-energy connection too.

Just last month a film was released, The Age of Consequences, which highlights the role of climate change impacts in driving resources scarcity such as drought and famine, which then in turn fuel armed conflict.

Last year, The Burden profiled the casualties caused by–and immense amount of military resources dedicated to–protecting fuel supply lines to power military operations, like fuel convoys and airdrops of oil. Between 2003 and 2007, one of every eight Army soldiers killed in duty in Iraq lost their lives to protect fuel convoys, while $85 billion is spent annually, about 17 percent of the Defense Department’s total budget, on protecting oil and shipping chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.

The costs of the fossil fuel era in lives, wealth, and compromised security make the transition to clean, renewable energy a matter of great significance to national defense.

To this end, the Department of Defense has adopted a goal to source 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, while the Department of the Navy is seeking 50 percent by 2020. The Navy has installed about one gigawatt of solar already.

Military bases in the Southeast are pushing forward in installing renewable energy to help meet the renewable energy goals. In Florida, the Navy and Air Force are working with Gulf Power to install three large solar installations at Eglin Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Pensacola, and Naval Air Station Whiting Field, that are collectively 120 megawatts. In Georgia, Marine Corps Logistic Base-Albany aims to be net-zero by the end of this year. It just broke ground on a 31 megawatt solar installation in partnership with Georgia Power, which along with energy efficiency investments as well as geothermal and a biomass facility, will allow the base to generate as much power as it uses. Camp Lejeune in North Carolina hosts a 13 megawatt solar farm on Duke Energy’s system.

We commend our nation’s military for advancing security by recognizing the defense risks posed by climate change and by bolstering energy security with increased adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Chris Carnevale
Chris is SACE’s Climate Advocacy Director. Chris joined the SACE staff in 2011 to help with building public understanding and engagement around clean energy solutions to the climate crisis. Chris…
My Profile