Department of the Navy releases climate change strategy

The Department of the Navy this week released its strategy on how it will tackle climate change and move on towards the government’s goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Climate change is one of the most volatile forces of our time, exacerbating other national security concerns and posing serious preparedness challenges,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in the introduction to the 32-page report. “Our navies and amphibians are in the crosshairs of the climate crisis and this strategy provides the framework to empower us to meaningfully reduce the threat of climate change.”

Setting the department on track to combat climate change was a top priority in Del Toro’s tenure. He called the problem “existential” for the Navy and Marine Corps.

“If we don’t act, as sea levels rise, bases such as Norfolk Naval Base and Marine Corps Recruitment Depot Parris Island will be severely tested for their ability to support their missions,” he wrote in the report. “If temperatures continue to rise, the oceans will become warmer, creating more destructive storms that will require our Fleet and Marine Corps forces to increase their operational tempo to respond.”

Go here to read the report.

While the iconic Parris Island and Atlantic naval base are threatened by climate change, Pentagon officials have also warned of the effects a warming planet has on military bases in the Arctic and subarctic.

The Army released its own climate strategy in February.

Del Toro also cited wildfires and droughts in the West, and a record-breaking heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, as other indicators that his department needed action.

Global instability related to climate change will drive water and food insecurity, as well as mass migration, and it will cause seafarers and Marines to embark on more humanitarian aid missions, Del Toro said.

The Navy’s “Climate Action 2030” plan seeks to reduce installations’ emissions and energy demand by increasing carbon-pollution-free electricity options, while helping troops prepare to operate in a potentially volatile future climate.

The Navy Department is working to reduce 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide “or equivalent pollution” annually by 2027, a move the Navy says would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.

“(The Department of the Navy) will also deploy cyber-secure micro-networks or comparable technology to increase carbon pollution-free power at our bases and installations to support critical missions,” a release announcing the plan said.

Already, the department has awarded more than $3 billion in contracts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while “increasing energy and water security” at US and overseas bases, according to the report.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, with a focus on the Navy. He has covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and most recently was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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