2021 Climate Adaptation Action Plan - U.S. Dept. of Defense

U.S Department of Defense
Posted on: 12/21/2021 - Updated on: 8/23/2022

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has identified climate change as a critical national security issue and threat multiplier (DOD 2014a) and top management challenge (DOD 2020a). Climate change will continue to amplify operational demands on the force, degrade installations and infrastructure, increase health risks to our service members, and could require modifications to existing and planned equipment. Extreme weather events are already costing the Department billions of dollars and are degrading mission capabilities. These effects and costs are likely to increase as climate change accelerates. Not adapting to climate change will be even more consequential with failure measured in terms of lost military capability, weakened alliances, enfeebled international stature, degraded infrastructure, and missed opportunities for technical innovation and economic growth.

The Department must take bold steps to accelerate adaptation to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change. These adaptation efforts must align with our strategic objectives and mission requirements, ensuring that our military can deter aggression and defend the nation under all conditions. DOD will build upon previous work (see inside back cover). Other DOD actions include scientific and engineering research to understand adaptation requirements, new policies and guidance, improved construction codes and standards, tools to assess and evaluate climate exposure at installations, and a requirement for comprehensive installation master planning.

This Plan builds upon the actions and activities outlined in the DOD 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (DOD 2014b) and meets the requirements of Section 211 of Executive Order (EO) 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis At Home and Abroad. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) subsequently indicated that the primary purpose of this plan is to “integrate climate change adaptation and climate resilience across agency programs, management of real property, public lands and waters, and financial services.” The Department has taken a very expansive approach to this guidance, intending to drive positive change across the largest federal resource-consuming entity in the nation. Some elements of CEQ’s prescribed format were modified to enhance understanding within the culture and national security context of the Department.

The Department is responding to climate change in two ways: adaptation to enhance resilience to the effects of climate change; and mitigation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (see definitions on previous page). The DOD’s Sustainability Report and Implementation Plan (expected in summer 2021) will further outline each of the Department’s climate mitigation strategies.


Department of Defense, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment). 2021. Department of Defense Draft Climate Adaptation Plan. Report Submitted to National Climate Task Force and Federal Chief Sustainability Officer. 1 September 2021.

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The Secretary of Defense is the principal defense policy advisor to the President. Under the direction of the President, the Secretary exercises authority, direction, and control over the Department of Defense. The Deputy Secretary, the second-highest ranking official in the DoD, is delegated full power and authority to act for the Secretary and to exercise the powers of the Secretary on any and all matters for which the Secretary is authorized to act. The

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