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WASHINGTON, D.C. October 21, 2021- The Office of the Director of National Intelligence today released “Climate Change and International Responses Increasing Challenges to U.S. National Security Through 2040,” the first NIE on climate change. Produced through the National Intelligence Council, ODNI’s center for long-term strategic analysis, the report assesses the near- and medium-term geopolitical implications of climate change abroad.

The NIE responds to a Presidential tasking described in Part I, Section 103(b) of Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” Its findings represent the consensus view of all 18 Intelligence Community elements. U.S. Federal science agencies provided the baseline observational data and climate modeling to enable the IC to conduct its analysis.

The full report is available at www.dni.gov

Key Takeaway

We assess that climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to US national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about how to respond to the challenge. Global momentum is growing for more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions, but current policies and pledges are insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Countries are arguing about who should act sooner and competing to control the growing clean energy transition. Intensifying physical effects will exacerbate geopolitical flashpoints, particularly after 2030, and key countries and regions will face increasing risks of instability and need for humanitarian assistance.

  • As a baseline, the IC uses the US Federal Scientific community’s high confidence in global projections of temperature increase and moderate confidence in regional projections of the intensity of extreme weather and other effects during the next two decades. Global temperatures have increased 1.1˚C since pre-industrial times and most likely will add 0.4˚C to reach 1.5˚C around 2030.
  • The IC has moderate confidence in the pace of decarbonization and low to moderate confidence in how physical climate impacts will affect US national security interests and the nature of geopolitical conflict, given the complex dimensions of human and state decision-making.