On May 24, the U.S. Navy released Climate Action 2030, its response to the Presidential directive to integrate climate considerations into all aspects of the Department of Defense. The Navy is the second of the armed services to release such a strategy – the Army released its version in February, and the Air Force continues to work on its plan.
Like the Army’s report, the Navy strategy repeatedly notes that far from distracting from the Navy’s core mission – warfighting – preparing for climate change will ensure the Navy is resilient and ready in the face of a changing landscape. As the report says, “The Department does not have to choose between warfighting and preparing for climate change; the two go hand-in-hand.”
It’s not hard to find examples of climate change directly threatening Navy infrastructure. Of course, most of the navy’s land-based assets—shipyards, bases, and other installations—are on seacoasts. As the Center for Climate and Security has previously assessed, locations like Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia and Parris Island in South Carolina face serious risks from rising sea levels and storm surges. Climate hazards also shape the activities of the Navy – for example, there will be increased demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in our own backyard and across the globe.
The new strategy reflects the ambition of President Biden’s December 2021 Executive Order on Sustainability, which set a goal of getting the federal government to net-zero by 2050. It also included goals around electrifying the federal fleet and installing microgrids on federal facilities – both of which are featured in the Navy report. The strategy also underscores the Navy’s commitment to ensuring its climate focus helps build climate resilience in the communities in which its installations are situated – a win-win approach.
The Navy plan is not as detailed as the Army strategy, but it promises more work will follow over the next 90 days, as the service goes through an implementation planning process. We look forward to seeing the concrete actions the Navy plans to take to achieve its ambitious goals.