President-elect Joe Biden has warned that climate change will pose future threats for the U.S. military as it worsens unrest in volatile regions and creates new dangers to its facilities from rising seas, powerful storms and harsh droughts.
But the Defense Department also offers a silver lining on climate change for the new president: a huge appetite for clean energy sources and a massive budget to help accelerate the development of new technologies needed to curb greenhouse gases and harden infrastructure to protect against worsening climate impacts.
Biden has called climate change an “existential threat” and promised to spend $2 trillion to expand clean energy and build resilient facilities over the next four years. But that ambitious plan will need approval from Congress — a heavy lift that’s likely to draw resistance from Republicans who may control the Senate and block any major green plans. That’s where the Pentagon can provide some help.
The Pentagon has long been a crucial customer for clean energy technologies, driving the country’s adoption of solar power and the rollout of mobile batteries. Now, its $700 billion budget may offer an opportunity for the Biden administration to help scale-up industries such as those producing electric vehicles and advanced batteries.
“Start with the fact the Department of Defense is the single largest energy user,” said Sherri Goodman, a deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security under Obama and now a senior fellow at the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, a think tank. “What it does and how it uses its energy, how it reduces its emissions, makes its bases more resilient to climate threats — that helps all America by learn by example.” [Continue reading…]