December 13, 2021

Defense, Climate and Energy Markets are Inexorably Linked. It’s Time to Acknowledge It.

By Daniel Silverberg

During the Trump administration, officials often repeated the slogan that “economic security is national security.” While that phrase has disappeared under the Biden administration, it’s a concept few would disagree with — unless one were to argue it must be expanded. In the following op-ed, the authors argue the specific ways that energy security ties into not just defense matters, but climate change as well.

While the era of thinking the Defense Department has no need to worry about the environment has thankfully ended, too many in Washington still think of climate change, energy markets, and national security as, at best, tangentially linked, and at worst opposites that cannot peacefully coexist.

It’s a view unfortunately shared on each side — climate activists often view defense spending as wasteful and polluting, while defense experts return fire that climate activists are downplaying national security. But with the Biden administration making climate change a priority across the board, the idea that either side can succeed without the other needs to be squashed immediately.

Too many in Washington still think of climate change, energy markets, and national security as, at best, tangentially linked, and at worst opposites that cannot peacefully coexist.

And there are less obvious cases to point to as well. Start by looking at the situation occurring with the price of gasoline. The epicenter of President Joe Biden’s approach has been unfolding in Vienna, where OPEC for weeks rebuffed the Biden Administration’s pleas to substantially increase production given rising gasoline prices. This price surge is crushing economies struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Biden made the request to OPEC on behalf of oil-consuming nations like India, Japan, Korea, and Britain.

America’s crude-importing global partners are in a near panic. Global oil prices have hit their highest levels since 2014; Britain has suffered crippling gas lines; India cut fuel taxes to reduce cost and boost consumer sentiment; and Japan is experiencing its highest gas prices in seven years, dampening domestic spending just as Tokyo emerges from its latest state of emergency. In other words, those countries whose cooperation we need most to meet the carbon-reducing objectives set forth last month in Glasgow are facing energy crunches that threaten implementation of future climate agreements; those same three nations represent key strategic national security partners that the US needs to operate around the globe. Assisting them with energy pricing serves both goals.

Read the full article from Breaking Defense.

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