The Navy earlier this spring quietly curtailed its Task Force Climate Change (TFCC), an initiative launched in 2009 to plan and develop “future public, strategic, and policy discussions” on the issue of climate change, E&ENews reported Wednesday.
The task force officially ended in March, while its web page on the Navy’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change website was removed sometime between March and July, according to the E&ENews report.
The TFCC released several reports on the strategic challenge climate change poses, critically examining how increased global temperatures and melting icecaps impact long-term planning, as well as the risks that rising sea levels and extreme weather poses to many Navy installations.
Alice Hill, a Hoover Institution research fellow and former National Security Council senior director for resilience under the Obama administration, says she implemented a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) task force modeled on the one initiated by the Navy.
“They did great work; they were the first task force within the Department of Defense,” Hill said. “We viewed them as a model of how the government should initially focus on the problem of climate change.”
The former TFCC director who ran the initiative from 2012-2015, Rear Adm. Jon White (Ret.), said the goal was “never meant to be a never-ending thing,” but to have climate change impacts incorporated into Navy planning.
However, he has seen “little evidence” that the task force’s work has been fully incorporated into the Navy’s decision-making process, according to the report.
“Across all of the Department of Defense, it is hard for me to see that climate change is taken as seriously at it should be,” said White, now president of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. “The task force ended, in my opinion, without full incorporation of climate change considerations.”
A Navy spokesperson countered the TFCC was curtailed because its processes are “now duplicative as functions have been transitioned to existing business processes; therefore, the original components of the task force are no longer needed,”
Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Danals