Activists hope upcoming defence bill could alert Trump to climate change’s threat to national security
As Congress returns from recess, a major piece of defence legislation is up for consideration that could prove to be invaluable for those looking to the US to fight climate change1. The annual National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA2), which specifies defence spending as well as foreign policy goals, will be debated in the Senate and the fact it normally gets bipartisan support means it becomes a lightning rod for different policies . This year, one of the amendments – if it is voted through – calls on the Pentagon to produce a report on the security risks posed by climate change. It will now be up to the Senate to pass the act with or without the Langevin amendment – but if it passes the signal it sends will be at odds with those put out by the Trump adminsitration up unil now.
Debate had been opened on the bill prior to the recess, however it was the same day as a crucial vote on the Republican replacement for Obamacare3 and debate quickly shifted back to healthcare on the Senate floor.
Donald Trump4 has begun the formal process to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, a global accord signed by nearly 200 countries to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries adjust to an already-changed planet. The move was criticised by several countries leaders and in response nearly a thousand CEOs and American mayors vowed to keep fighting climate change, even without the federal government s help. At the same time, Mr Trump also increased the US defence budget and recently requested a troop surge for Afghanistan while proposing dramatic cuts to diplomatic functions at the State Department.
These may seem like unrelated issues but as Francesco Femia, President of the Washington-based Center for Climate and Security, reminded The Independent: the Pentagon has, since at least as far back as 2003, taken climate change seriously. At least four of Mr Trump s top military counsel: Defence Secretary James Mattis5, Assistant Defence Secretary Lucian Niemeyer, Secretary of the Navy Richard V Spencer, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva have all reaffirmed the connection, according to Mr Femia. Even the 2014 Quadrennial Defence Review, done ahead of the December 2015 Paris Agreement6, stated that climate change will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental, political instability, and social tensions conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.
However, the Trump administration s seemingly conflicting policies makes it appear as if it does not see the connection . In the latest draft of the NDAA however, there is hope that Congress does. In June 2017, the House voted in the Langevin Amendment to the NDAA in what Mr Femia called the most significant bipartisan action on climate change in about a decade. The Amendment, named after Congressman Jim Langevin of the Armed Services Committee, would require the Defence Secretary to provide a report to Congress detailing ten military bases or installations in each service that are facing a threat from climate change within the next 20 years- specifically sea level rise, erosion, drought, increased frequency of natural disasters.
If passed in the Senate it would also require a discussion of the climate-change related effects…including the increase in the frequency of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and the theatre campaign plans, contingency plans . France trolls Trump by annotating White House video about the Paris Agreement
Ohio University Professor Geoff Dabelko told the Wilson Center s New Security Beat blog that the bipartisan support garnered by the Langevin amendment7 is just the first step in a process to heal the political divide on climate change.
The security community does not have the luxury to add or drop threats to security when control of Congress or the White House changes hands, he noted. He explained, however, that this the exact opposite of what the Trump administration has been demonstrating the last seven months.
Part of the criticism of the Langevin amendment was that focusing on climate change – the vast body of science which even Mr Trump s head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry have called into question – would detract from national security properties. As Representative Liz Cheney – daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney – said during the House floor debate: There is no evidence that climate change causes war…North Korea is not developing nuclear tipped ICBMs because the climate s changing . ISIS and al Qaeda are not attacking the West because of the weather.
However, that may not be entirely true though academic researchers8 are still arguing over this climate-conflict connection – particularly when it concerns the sequence of drought, food insecurity, migration, and an outbreak of conflict over more scarce resources. Republican Representative Scott Perry tried and failed to pass an amendment that essentially said enough federal agencies address climate change that the Defence Department should not be concerned with it. Several of his party colleagues noted however that the Langevin Amendment is simply a report and information about potential threats is not detrimental.
Neil Bhatiya, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security, also argued against Ms Cheney and Mr Perry s statements when it comes to focusing on one type of security threat. He told The Independent that the military establishment is capable of both responding to immediate threats like Isis, the Taliban, and North Korea while simultaneously preparing for future threats like social and political instability arising from climate change impacts. Mr Bhatiya said that though anything is possible in this political climate, he feels there are more pressing political issues that are far more controversial surrounding this year s NDAA that the climate change amendment will be safe from being taken out of a Senate draft.
Given Mr Trump s proposed cuts to the US Coast Guard9, the maritime security agency which is also tasked with ocean preservation, some experts fear it could still be part of the debate. Mr Trump has repeatedly expressed his commitment to the US coal and manufacturing industries, specifically the workers in those fields. Coupled with messaging that addressing climate change would have a negative economic impact and several EPA and State Department scientific advisors resigning or being pushed out – political pressure to not include the Langevin amendment or similar language on climate change could mount.
It had done so in the most recent iteration of the healthcare debate, with many Republican Senators initially speaking out against the Trump administration. However, save for a few, they fell into party line and voted with Mr Trump. One saving grace may be the deteriorated relationship between Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Jeff Flake – all of whom have been on the receiving end of Mr Trump s public, Twitter and private ire according to reports.
The fact that Chief of Staff John Kelly has been involved in previous Defence Department efforts to understand climate impacts as the former Commander-in-Chief of Southern Command may ultimately be encouraging on the front, as well Mr Bhatiya said.
Of course, even with Mr Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson10 s previous comments regarding the need to address climate change, Mr Trump still withdrew the US from the Paris accord. Mr Femia pointed out that the report required by the Langevin Amendment would also highlight how the civilian communities – both in the US and abroad – are affected by climate change, a selling point for some Senators.
If this Administration is serious about improving American infrastructure, and supporting our military, it will have to be serious about the climate resilience of that infrastructure which is not limited to just military bases, Mr Femia said. For the time being, Mr Trump and his surrogates have yet to confirm whether the President actually believes in climate change, a separate issue from whether he thinks federal funding should address the problem.
- ^ climate change (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ NDAA (www.govtrack.us)
- ^ Obamacare (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Donald Trump (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ James Mattis (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Paris Agreement (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Langevin amendment (www.newsecuritybeat.org)
- ^ academic researchers (arstechnica.com)
- ^ cuts to the US Coast Guard (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Rex Tillerson (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)
US security officials have classified the left-wing group Antifa as “domestic terrorists”, confidential documents have revealed. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reportedly been warning about the growing threat of violence between left-wing anarchists and right-wing nationalists since 2016, amid claims Antifa’s activity has become more confrontational, according to documents seen by Politico1. A confidential intelligence report by the DHS and the FBI accused the “anarchist extremists” of attacks on police, government and political institutions, along with any other symbols of the “capitalist system” or displays of racism, social injustice or fascism.
It described some of their activities as “domestic terrorist violence”. Antifa, shorthand for anti-fascist organisations, refers to a loose coalition of decentralised, grassroots groups opposed to the many guises of the extreme right. The group has come under growing scrutiny in the past weeks after Donald Trump blamed the “alt-left” for the deadly violence between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville2, Virginia.
But law enforcement officials said that the US President helped spur the backlash through his own divisive rhetoric.
It was in that period as the Trump campaign emerged that we really became aware of them, one senior law enforcement official said.
These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people .. . they re using Molotov cocktails, they re starting fires, they re throwing bombs and smashing windows. Officials are now warning of an escalation of violence as white supremacist and far-right groups grow stronger and more militant.
Everybody is wondering, ‘What are we gonna do ? How are we gonna deal with this?’ said the senior state law enforcement official.
Every time they have one of these protests where both sides are bringing guns, there are sphincters tightening in my world . Emotions get high, and fingers get twitchy on the trigger.
In their April 2016 assessment, the DHS and FBI said the Antifa could become more dangerous if fascist, nationalist, racist or anti-immigrant parties obtain greater prominence or local political power in the United States, leading to anti-racist violent backlash from anarchist extremists . The comes as close to 350,000 people signed a petition calling on Mr Trump3 to formally recognise anti-fascists as terrorists. The petition, which was created following the Virginia violence, urged the federal government to declare Antifa a terror group out of principle, integrity, morality and safety .
Mr Trump came under heavy criticism after he claimed there had been violence on both sides in the wake of the rally, which left one person dead after a white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.
- ^ Politico (www.politico.com)
- ^ white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ 350,000 people signed a petition calling on Mr Trump (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)
1/58 27 August 2017
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan takes part in a release of doves as a show of respect for those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire, during the Notting Hill Carnival Family Day in west London. PA
2/58 26 August 2017
Eight people have died in a crash involving a minibus and two lorries on the M1 near Milton Keynes . All of those who died are believed to have been travelling in the minibus, which was from the Nottingham area . The two lorry drivers have been arrested, one of them on suspicion of driving while over the alcohol limit. Alamy
3/58 25 August 2017
A Science Museum employee poses next to the Wells Cathedral Clock mechanism during a photocall at the Science Museum in London, England .
The Wells Cathedral Clock mechanism is believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Getty Images
4/58 24 August 2017
Lavlyn Mendoza (left) and Jennifer Quila celebrate after collecting their GCSE results, at Sion-Manning Roman Catholic Girls school in west London
Ben Stevens/PA Wire
5/58 24 August 2017
Reverend Andrew Poppe takes part in cricket match on the Brambles sandbank at low tide on August 24, 2017 in Hamble, England . The annual event sees Hamble’s Royal Southern Yacht Club team take on the Cowes-based Island Sailing Club in a game of cricket . Spectators from the Isle of White and Southampton travel on boats to watch the match which lasts for around 45 minutes while the sandbank is exposed
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
6/58 21 August 2017
People gather in Parliament Square to listen to the final chimes of Big Ben ahead of a four-year renovation plan in London . The bell will still be used for special occasions such as marking New Year, but will remain silent on a daily basis, to allow the work teams to carry out structural repairs
7/58 20 August 2017
The Liverpool crew enters the Mersey, during the start of the Clipper Round the World Race at the Albert Docks, Liverpool.
8/58 19 August 2017
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage poses for photographs with veterans and Chelsea Pensioners next to a Spitfire on display at the Biggin Hill Festival of Flight in Biggin Hill, England . The Biggin Hill Festival of Flight is an annual airshow event and in 2017 the airport is celebrating its centenary . The airport only became exclusively business and general aviation in 1959, prior to which it was used by the British Royal Air Force. Getty
9/58 18 August 2017
The Isle of Skye is known as one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, however its infrastructure services are being stretched to the limit by the number of visitors heading there to enjoy its rugged scenic beauty. Getty Images
10/58 17 August 2017
Grainne Close (L) and Shannon Sickles (2nd L) alongside Henry Edmond Kane (3rd L) and Christopher Patrick Flanagan (4th L) at Belfast High Court speak to the media through their solicitor Mark O’Connor (R) after the ruling on whether to allow same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland in Belfast, Northern Ireland .
The judge dismissed both cases . Same-sex marriage is recognised in the rest of the United Kingdom but not in Northern Ireland were the largest political party, the DUP has blocked proposed legislation . Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close, the first women to have a civil partnership in the UK and Henry Edmond Kane and Christopher Patrick Flanagan were challenging the NI Assembly’s repeated refusal to legislate for same sex marriage. Getty
11/58 16 August 2017
Ratings line the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, as she arrives in Portsmouth . The 65,000-tonne carrier, the largest warship ever to be built in Britain, is expected to be the Navy’s flagship for at least 50 years.
12/58 15 August 2017
People watch a bonfire in the bogside area of Londonderry, which is traditionally torched on August 15 to mark a Catholic feast day celebrating the assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, but in modern times the fire has become a source of contention and associated with anti-social behaviour. PA
13/58 14 August 2017
An artist s impression showing the proposed London Garden Bridge . The 200m plan to build a bridge covered with trees over the River Thames in central London has been abandoned . The Garden Bridge Trust said it had failed to raise funds since losing the support of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan in April
14/58 13 August 2017
Sir Mo Farah stands at the top of the Coca-Cola London Eye as he bids a final farewell to British track athletics after winning gold in the 10,000m and silver in the 5,000m at the IAAF World Championships in his home city
15/58 12 August 2017
A dog retrieves a shot grouse on Lofthouse Moor in North Yorkshire as the Glorious 12th, the official start of the grouse shooting season, gets underway.Grouse moor estates received millions of pounds in subsidies last year, according to analysis which comes amid a debate over the future of farming payments after Brexit
16/58 11 August 2017
Hot air balloons in the air after taking off in a mass ascent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. PA
17/58 11 August 2017
The scene in Rosslyn Avenue, Sunderland, after an explosion at a house.
18/58 10 August 2017
Police on Goose Lane bridge which goes over the M11 motorway near Birchanger which is closed after a van driver was killed in a motorway crash after what “appears to be a lump of concrete” struck his windscreen and his vehicle hit a tree. PA
19/58 10 August 2017
Emergency services at the scene in Lavender Hill, southwest London, after a bus left the road and hit a shop. PA
20/58 9 August 2017
Guards march up to Windsor Castle in the rain as a yellow weather warning for rain has been issued for parts of the UK .
Heavy rain has brought flooding to the north-east of England
21/58 8 August 2017
A car on fire in the North Queen Street area of Belfast, close to the site of a contentious bonfire . The car was torched shortly after 10pm on Monday night
22/58 7 August 2017
A post-Brexit trade deal with the US could see a massive increase in the amount of cancer-causing toxins in British milk and baby food
23/58 6 August 2017
Acts gather amongst the crowds at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. PA
24/58 5 August 2017
New world 100m champion Justin Gatlin pays respect to Usain Bolt after the Jamaican s last solo race
25/58 5 August 2017
Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain (Lane 6) and Carolin Schafer of Germany (Lane 7) and their opponants compete in the Women’s Heptathlon 100 metres hurdles during day two of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium. Getty Images
26/58 5 August 2017
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is greeted by PSNI and Garda police officers representative of the gay community as he attends a Belfast Gay Pride breakfast meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland . The Irish Prime Minister is on a two day visit to the province having already met with DUP leader Arlene Foster yesterday .
The DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest political party have so far blocked attempts to legalise gay marriage. Getty Images
Members of Unite employed by Serco at Barts Health NHS Trust, on strike over pay, protest outside Serco’s presentation of financial results at JP Morgan, in London. PA
28/58 3 August 2017
Athletics – IAAF World Athletics Championships Preview – London, Britain – August 3, 2017 Great Britain’s Mo Farah takes a photo in the stadium
29/58 3 August 2017
Britain’s Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, addresses journalists during a press conference to deliver the quarterly inflation report in London, August 3, 2017 . REUTERS
Bank of England and British Airways workers stage a protest outside the Bank of England in the City of London.
31/58 2 August 2017
Britain’s Prince Philip, in his role as Captain General, Royal Marines, attends a Parade to mark the finale of the 1664 Global Challenge, on the Buckingham Palace Forecourt, in central London, Britain.The 96-year-old husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, made his final solo appearance at the official engagement on Wednesday, before retiring from active public life. REUTERS
32/58 2 August 2017
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt gestures during a press conference prior to Bolt’s last World Championship, in east London
33/58 30 July 2017
Riders wait at the start on Horse Guards Parade in central London ahead of the “Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic 2017”, UCI World Tour cycle race in London. AFP/Getty Images
34/58 29 July 2017
Horse and riders take part in the Riding of the Marches ford on the River Esk, alongside the Roman Bridge in Musselburgh, East Lothian, during the annual Musselburgh Festival organised by the Honest Toun’s Association.
35/58 28 July 2017
A wide view of play during day two of the 3rd Investec Test match between England and South Africa at The Kia Oval
Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
36/58 27 July 2017
A nurse shows a message on his phone to colleagues as they take part in a protest near Downing Street in London . The Royal College of Nursing have launched a series of demonstrations, as part of their ‘Summer of Protest’ campaign against the 1 percent cap on annual pay rises for most NHS staff
Carl Court/Getty Images
37/58 27 July 2017
Two men look through binoculars at US Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W . Bush anchored off the coast on in Portsmouth, England . The 100,000 ton ship dropped anchor in the Solent this morning ahead of Exercise Saxon Warrior 2017, a training exercise between the UK and USA
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
38/58 26 July 2017
Connie Yates, mother of terminally-ill 11-month-old Charlie Gard, arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on where a High Court judge is set to decide where baby Charlie Gard will end his life
39/58 26 July 2017
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson gestures while posing for a photograph at the Sydney Opera House, in Sydney . Johnson is there to attend AUKMIN, the annual meeting of UK and Australian Foreign and Defence Ministers. Dan Himbrechts
40/58 25 July 2017
Britain Prime Minister Theresa May walks with her husband Philip in Desenzano del Garda, by the Garda lake, as they holiday in northern Italy
41/58 23 July 2017
England team players pose after winning the ICC Women’s World Cup cricket final between England and India at Lord’s cricket ground in London
42/58 23 July 2017
Rajeshwari Gayakwad of India attempts to run out Jenny Gunn of England during the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 Final between England and India at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
43/58 22 July 2017
Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey, celebrates on the podium after the twentieth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 22.5 kilometers (14 miles) with start and finish in Marseille, France.
44/58 22 July 2017
Competitors take part in the swim stage during the AJ Bell London Triathlon 2017 at Royal Victoria Docks in London, England . The 21st annual AJ Bell Triathlon sees 13000 competitors take part in the world’s largest triathlon. Getty Images
45/58 21 July 2017
Environment Secretary Michael Gove looks at screens in the information pod in the forest zone at the WWF Living Planet Centre in Woking, after he told an audience of environmental and countryside organisations that Brexit gives scope for Britain to be a global leader in green policy
46/58 21 July 2017
Screen grabbed image taken from video issued by NATS showing air traffic over the UK yesterday at 12:15pm, with red representing departures, yellow arrivals, purple domestic and blue overflights . Air traffic controllers are dealing with the busiest day in the UK’s aviation history . A total of 8,800 planes are to be handled by controllers across the country over 24 hours, at the start of a summer season which is due to see a record 770,000 flights in UK airspace – 40,000 more than last year
47/58 20 July 2017
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon shows off his cufflinks after cutting steel on the first Type 26 frigate at BAE System’s Govan Shipyard near Glasgow.
48/58 20 July 2017
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson looks at a bipedal humanoid robot Wabian2 at Research Institute for Science and Engineering at Waseda University’s Kikuicho Campus in Tokyo
49/58 19 July 2017
A damaged road in Coverack, Cornwall, after intense rain caused flash flooding in the coastal village. PA
50/58 19 July 2017
Prince George holds hands with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they leave Warsaw
51/58 18 July 2017
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her visit to the site of Aberdeen Harbour’s expansion into Nigg Bay
52/58 18 July 2017
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives at Downing Street for the weekly cabinet meeting
53/58 17 July 2017
Daniel Goodfellow and Tom Daley of Great Britain compete during the Men’s Diving 10M Synchro Platform, preliminary round on day four of the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships on July 17, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary
54/58 17 July 2017
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks to the press upon his arrival at the European Council for the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels
Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images
55/58 16 July 2017
Switzerland’s Roger Federer holds aloft the winner’s trophy after beating Croatia’s Marin Cilic in their men’s singles final match, during the presentation on the last day of the 2017 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London . Roger Federer won 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.
56/58 15 July 2017
Garbine Muguruza of Spain celebrates victory with the trophy after the Ladies Singles final against Venus Williams of The United States on day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon. Getty
57/58 14 July 2017
The hearse departs St Joseph’s Church after the funeral service for six year old Sunderland FC fan, Bradley Lowery on in Hartlepool, England . Bradley was diagnosed with neuroblastoma aged only 18 months .
Hundreds of people lined the streets to pay their respects to the Sunderland football supporter who lost his battle with cancer last Friday.
58/58 13 July 2017
The EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, receives an Arsenal football top from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels