With the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, just weeks away, several federal agencies simultaneously on Oct. 21 released four new analyses on the national security implications of climate change—including a report from the White House on climate change and migration stating that individuals citing climate change “may, in limited instances, have valid claims for refugee status” in the United States.
That White House report states that nationals from a foreign state can be granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on the basis of “climate-related factors,” later recommending that Congress consider relaxing TPS requirements and making it easier for recipients to apply for permanent status.
That report also recommends that Congress evaluate the possibility of additional protection “for individuals who can establish that they are fleeing serious, credible threats to their life or physical integrity as a result of climate change.”
In addition, it recommends that the United States scale up its investments related to climate migration through funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.N., among other entities.
The report comes as the National Security Council creates a new interagency working group focused on the connection between climate change and migration.
“Given that climate-induced weather extremes will grow in severity in unexpected ways, this working group will provide a venue for developing long-term strategies consistent with the evolving scientific understanding of climate impacts, such as those communicated through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Assessment,” the White House writes in its Fact Sheet on the new reports.
The White House report was released concurrently with three other reports, which follow up on President Joe Biden’s executive orders on climate change, including E.O. 14013, “Executive Order on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration.”
One comes from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which released a National Intelligence Estimate on climate change.
Representing the consensus position of the DNI and 17 other intelligence agencies, the report says climate change will result in many outcomes that threaten U.S. national security interests, including by heightening water-related conflict, driving cross-border migration, and spurring competition with China for critical minerals.
“China and India will play critical roles in determining the trajectory of temperature rise,” the report states.
It also outlines several events that would alter its assessment, including large-scale geoengineering to “dim the planet” and induce global cooling, breakthroughs in nuclear fusion, and military incursions by China or other countries in the thawing Arctic.
Another report comes from the Pentagon, which released an unclassified version of its Climate Risk Analysis. That report omitted region-level analyses of climate-related hazards relevant to its global operations, which it stated were “Controlled Unclassified Information.”
“An influx of climate-related migration through the U.S.–Mexico border and climate-induced existential threats to Arctic communities and Alaska Native culture will accelerate and require our proactive actions to manage future border crises and potential relocation of internally-displaced populations,” the report states.