Climate Change and the Military: Examining the Pentagon’s Integration of National Security Interests and Environmental Goals under Clinton

Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri Goodman at an environmental conference, June 2, 1997
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri Goodman at an environmental conference, June 2, 1997. Goodman was a negotiator in Kyoto and a major advocate for Pentagon efforts to emphasize environmental security as a part of national security policy. (Photo credit: National Archives at College Park)

This post is reprinted from the National Security Archive website. Archived here.

Briefing Book # 794

Edited by Burkely Hermann

For more information, contact: 202-994-7000 or nsarchiv@gwu.edu

Related Links

National Security and Climate Change: Behind the U.S. Pursuit of Military Exemptions to the Kyoto Protocol

The Clinton White House and Climate Change, Part II: Engaging the Oval Office

The Clinton White House and Climate Change: The Struggle to Restore U.S. Leadership

Kyoto Redux?

U.S. Climate Change Policy in the 1980s

The U.S. and Climate Change: Washington’s See-Saw on Global Leadership

Washington, D.C., May 26, 2022 – The Pentagon’s role in U.S. environmental policy expanded during the Clinton presidency as the Pentagon became a more active player at international climate change conferences and pressed for acceptance of policies favorable to the U.S. military, according to declassified documents posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive.

For example, the Defense Department pushed for military exemptions to the Kyoto Protocol and gained defenders for that provision among U.S. climate change negotiators despite calls from other countries and nongovernmental environmental organizations to close what they described as a “loophole.” Partly responding to pressure from these quarters, the Pentagon also committed to adhering to practices that were more environmentally responsible.

The records in today’s posting primarily focus on perspectives of U.S.

President George H.W. Bush signing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN Photos)
President George H.W. Bush signing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN Photos)

diplomats and officials who realized the importance of issues like bunker fuels, but also describe the Defense Department’s energy consumption, role in environmental policy, and interagency cooperation on climate change issues. This e-book also includes views of President Clinton’s closest advisers and shows the importance to the U.S. delegation of exemptions won in Kyoto after the third Conference of Parties in 1997.

 

These documents have particular relevance as a recent Munich Security Conference report concluded that climate change was a more pressing threat than war, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to consider how pipelines and other projects affect climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in their future assessments. [1]

Frank Loy, under secretary of state for global affairs in Clinton's first term
Frank Loy, under secretary of state for global affairs in Clinton’s first term. (Wikipedia)

Virtually all of the documents posted here are the result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. They appear in the latest collection from the Digital National Security Archive, The Diplomacy of Climate Change: U.S. Policy from the Montreal Protocol to the Paris Agreement, 1981-2015, edited by Dr. Robert A. Wampler, consisting of 2,440 professionally catalogued and indexed records, plus numerous finding aids, published by ProQuest and available at many major libraries.

*****

“Consistent with national security”: The Pentagon’s integration of military objectives and environmental security

By Burkely Hermann

In an earlier posting, the National Security Archive featured declassified documents that provided insight into Pentagon demands for military exemptions during the 1997 Kyoto climate negotiations and U.S. efforts to convince other countries to agree to exempt specific military operations from emissions requirements. Those documents also highlighted the perspectives of U.S. negotiators, officials, and legislators who wanted bigger carve-outs for military operations and were critical of the Kyoto Protocol.

The documents in this post expand on that story by focusing on the Pentagon’s role in U.S. environmental policy, including sending representatives to international climate change conferences, and feature perspectives of U.S. officials who realized the importance of such matters as bunker fuels and the military’s role in environmental policy.

Holly Kaufman
Holly Kaufman was a special advisor in the Pentagon’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security) and a representative at the fourth Conference of Parties in Buenos Aires. (LinkedIn)

Throughout the 1990s, the Clinton administration emphasized climate change policy, making it even more a part of U.S. diplomacy and military action than in previous years. In April 1996, the State Department provided recommendations on temperature adjustments, global warming potentials, marine bunkers, international aviation fuels, and accounting for imported electricity in order to prepare national communications for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. [Document 1] Although the State Department’s position paper did not directly mention national security, the paper does make it clear that bunker fuels and international aviation fuels were an important issue for U.S. climate negotiators and notes their significance as “sources of emission.”

At the same time, the U.S. Congress considered appropriating funds to the Pentagon for fuel cells and electric vehicles. The military simultaneously doubled down on domestic environmental programs and emphasized “environmental security” as part of national security policy. Unfortunately, the declassified record appears to be virtually nonexistent when it comes to documenting internal debates within the U.S. military over these issues. As such, it is hard to know whether this was an initiative of specific military officials or a result of pressure from high-ranking officers, necessitating educated guesses.

Duncan Marsh
Duncan Marsh, State Department climate change negotiator, in a more recent photo. (YouTube)

This focus was spearheaded by officials such as Sherri W. Goodman, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security who had been appointed to lead the Pentagon’s Office of Environmental Security in 1993. She called for the use of environmentally sustainable technologies and declared that 1996 was an “exciting time for DOD’s environmental professionals.” She also noted the Pentagon’s collaboration with other U.S. agencies, like the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Energy.[2]

 

Supporting this was William J. Perry, the secretary of defense at the time. He argued in a speech to the Society of American Military Engineers in November 1996, that a “strong environmental program” was important for the Pentagon. He further said that environmental protection was critical to military “quality of life” and military readiness. He then stated that the military’s environmental program was a way to engage “militaries of new democracies.”[3] Not surprisingly, there was pushback, with Laurent R. Hourcle, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who had served as the head of the Air Force’s Environmental Law division, complaining about environmental regulations which he called onerous. Hourcle admitted that in terms of such laws, military activities pollute, adding that “they always have and they always will.” For example, he noted that due to exhaust from land and sea vehicles, these emissions are a “form of pollution” and that many of the military’s weapons were built when environmental regulations were “much less stringent.”[4]

Bunker fuels and other military concerns remained on the minds of U.S. climate negotiators.

Mark G. Hambley
Ambassador Mark G. Hambley, represented the U.S. at Kyoto and in other climate fora during the 1990s. (Socosix.com)

In January 1997, Jonathan C. Pershing, the U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, wrote to Jan Corfee-Morlot, an official of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Pollution Prevention and Control Division. In a position paper attached to his letter, he described the U.S. support for changes to a tax on marine bunker fuels, implying opposition to these taxes, and noted that such taxes would affect global shipping. [Document 2] Although neither national security nor the military is mentioned in the paper, such taxes would have undoubtedly affected U.S. military operations due to global U.S. naval activities.

Climate negotiators also gladly invited the Pentagon to be a part of the U.S. climate negotiations, promoting their involvement in order to buttress arguments in favor of U.S. objectives. In July 1997, the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Office of Global Change submitted a non-classified climate action report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat. In the report, the Pentagon is noted as the largest energy consumer within the federal government, accounting for “over 80 percent of total energy use” and 93% of equipment and vehicle energy use. The report also pointed to cooperation between the Pentagon and Department of Energy on energy efficiency, the military’s collaboration with other agencies on climate change issues, and involvement in developing biomass energy. [Document 3]

By 1997, the Pentagon recognized the military’s role in environmental pollution and greenhouse gases. There were calls to make the U.S. military’s environmental programs more effective, while using “innovative technologies” to cut costs and improve mission readiness.[5] In an article in the summer of 1997, Goodman called for a further emphasis on “environmental considerations,” describing it as critical to military activities, “quality of life,” and an important element of U.S. national security policy. She pointed to the Department’s collaboration with other federal agencies, countries, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on environmental matters. She went on to declare that the U.S. military is “lean, mean and green.”[6]

Goodman’s statements were further buttressed by her role in climate negotiations, as a delegate at the Kyoto conference in 1997 as well as a key Pentagon contributor to high-level interagency discussions about climate, including helping to develop the U.S. position on greenhouse gas commitments for developing countries in the soon-to-be-formed Kyoto agreement. [Document 4]

The Pentagon directly advocated for its interests during the Kyoto negotiations. This is evident in a September 1997 letter from Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre to Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. In the letter, he notes the Pentagon’s approval of President Clinton’s efforts on climate change, while calling on the State Department to “protect national security” with provisions within the Kyoto Protocol that allow military operations, “military tactical and strategic systems,” including those in space, and military readiness, to be exempt from emissions reductions. He ends the letter by touting the Pentagon’s reduction in energy use, describes the military as a “leader in energy conservation and efficiency,” and argues that reducing energy usage can be beneficial. He also states that the Pentagon would support energy reductions “to the extent consistent with national security.” [Document 5]

President Clinton’s advisers communicated the military’s concerns on climate change policy to him. On October 18, Eugene B. Sperling, Katie McGinty, Daniel Tarullo, Jim Steinberg, and Todd Stern told him that the Pentagon wanted exemptions to emission requirements because of the military’s concern that “fuel reduction requirements could hamper military operations.” However, these advisers stated that while they agreed with the military’s objective, they did not agree with having wide exemptions, and stated that they were working with the Pentagon to clarify their objectives and resolve differences. [Document 6]

Additional documents in 1997 and 1998 indicate the military’s involvement in environmental policy, integrating it as part of national security policy. In October 1997, the White House Office of Environmental Initiatives pointed out that the Pentagon was working with other federal agencies and industry groups on efforts to “develop, demonstrate and deploy housing technologies and practices” in order to build more sustainable, disaster-resistant, and safer homes. [Document 7] It would include homes for the military’s civilian personnel. In May 1998, it was noted that the U.S. military was involved in the interagency U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program, otherwise known as USGCRP. [Document 8]

While Goodman professed the need of the Pentagon to help create an “environmentally and economically sustainable future,” Rear Admiral Andrew A. Granuzzo voiced his approval for legislative efforts to exempt military training and readiness from emission reduction requirements. He also supported the qualified military exemptions within the Kyoto Protocol, describing them as necessary to “maintain military readiness.” Others, like environmental consultants Michael A. Katz and Jerry R. Hudson, called for the Pentagon to meet emission reduction goals without “affecting national security goals” while acknowledging that the U.S. military was the biggest single energy user in the U.S.[7]

U.S. climate negotiators accommodated the Pentagon’s desire to reduce emissions, sometimes only implicitly, rather than directly. For instance, in November 1998, Mark G. Hambley, the U.S. Special Negotiator on Climate Change, forwarded notes from Holly Kaufman, a Special Advisor in the Pentagon’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security) and representative at the fourth Conference of Parties in Buenos Aires to other U.S. climate negotiators. In her notes, Kaufman describes discussions among delegates on environmental efficiency, flexible mechanisms within the Kyoto treaty, U.S. consideration of climate models, and other topics. Although she does not directly mention national security, her report does reveal the Pentagon’s interest in these topics which fits with the military’s focus on environmental security during this time period. [Document 9]

Such efforts were part of the Clinton administration push to emphasize climate change as central to national policy. This inevitably involved the military. Thus, Kaufman was not the only Pentagon representative in Buenos Aires. The Pentagon’s Associate General Counsel, Dan Benton, and the Defense Representative on the White House Climate Change Task Force, John Gibson, were also present.[8] Gibson was senior counsel on the White House Climate Change Task Force, coordinating policy development and strategic communications planning for an “interagency task force to address global warming.” Kaufman, on the other hand, managed a national security and climate change portfolio at the Pentagon.[9]

A series of State Department documents in November 1998 describe the involvement of Pentagon representatives as part of the U.S. climate change negotiating team in Buenos Aires. These documents indicate the Pentagon’s interest in technology development, technology transfer, climate observation and research. This also manifested itself in U.S. pushback to suggestions by Austria, on behalf of European Union countries, that bunker fuels be included in national totals. Such an action, if it was implemented, would have reverted the exemptions won by the Pentagon in Kyoto. [Documents 10 and 11]

Continued emphasis by U.S. negotiators on national security goals remained paramount. On November 12, 1998, Stuart E. Eizenstat, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, spoke to the fourth Conference of Parties to U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, calling for environmental cooperation to combat climate change, and pointed to the flexible mechanisms within the Kyoto agreement. After stating that the U.S. would sign the Kyoto Protocol, he stated that the U.S. is “guided by the firm belief that the signing will serve our environmental, economic, and national security goals.” [Document 12] Such a statement not only refers to the Pentagon winning military exemptions in Kyoto the previous year but retention of those exemptions during the conference in 1998.

The Pentagon continued to be focused on the same issues addressed by the exemptions gained in Kyoto. In June 1999, Kevin Green of the Department of Transportation[10] recalled discussions with Jose Romero, a Swiss climate representative, and others, on “international bunker fuels.” [Document 13] Continued importance of this issue makes clear that military goals were still on the minds of U.S. delegates during climate change negotiations. Such a focus was not a surprise since Kaufman and Benton were again Pentagon representatives at the fifth Conference of Parties in Bonn, Germany. They were joined by Bruce DeGreta, the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, and the Pentagon’s Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Environmental Quality, Bruce DeGrazia. Kaufman and DeGrazia would represent the Pentagon during the climate conference in The Hague the following year, along with David “Dave” T. Peters, director of the Pentagon’s Worldwide Pollution Prevention Programs.[11]

A memorandum from Hambley in June 1999 noted that the proposed decision on bunker fuels was a controversial issue for non-governmental organizations. He further stated that Department of Transportation and Pentagon reports provided the “ins-and-outs” of the discussion. [Document 14] In July 1999, Duncan Marsh, foreign affairs officer for the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Office of Global Change,[12] indicated that U.S. negotiators saw this issue as important. In a message to David Sandalow, then at the Council on Environmental Quality on the National Security Council staff, he called for possible redrafting of responses to environmental non-governmental organizations on carbon sinks, bunker fuels, and other issues, asking him for a quick response. Sandalow would later become the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs on October 28, 1999.[13]

Marsh included a summary, by Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Frank E. Loy and White House Climate Change Task Force chair Roger Ballantine, of the national security exemptions secured by the Pentagon in Kyoto, and reporting of those emissions. Loy and Ballantine claimed that the exemptions resolved “unique challenges” from international aviation and maritime activities but called for international action to reduce these emissions that did not dislodge the exemptions. This document was also sent to Benton, one of the Pentagon representatives at the conference, showing that he was in the loop of climate change policymakers.

Another challenge advocates for military exemptions faced came from environmental activists. One of the documents Marsh forwarded to Sandalow is a letter from representatives of groups such as US Climate Action Network, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Sierra Club.[14]Their letter criticizes the U.S. climate change negotiating strategy. This is expanded in an appended report which, in part, calls for the closure of the “international bunker fuel loophole.” [Document 15] Such an approach, however, did not recognize that the U.S. was committed to retaining such exemptions, a position supported by climate negotiators, politicians, and officials alike.

In August 1999, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and Fisheries R. Tucker Scully told Loy about claims raised by environmental non-governmental organizations. He worried that attempts to resolve the issue around bunker fuels could “raise questions about the exemption for military operations.” He further defended the approach by U.S. diplomats, saying they had worked to refute claims that the Kyoto agreement damages national security, and hoped that such organizations could be satisfied by pointing to future action by U.N. organs on bunker fuels. [Document 16] By September 2000, however, bunker fuels were still a topic of discussion during climate negotiations, as an unclassified memorandum from Hambley shows. In an attachment to the memorandum, one of the Pentagon representatives, Dave Peters, reports on responses from Swiss and French delegations on the topic of bunker fuels during the conference negotiations in The Hague. [Document 17] The Swiss demanded international action by the ICAO and IMO on emissions, while the French, representing the European Union, emphasized the importance of greenhouse gases emitted from “international transportation” to the Kyoto Protocol. They also urged further international cooperation on climate change.

Pentagon concern over greenhouse gas emissions remained. Congressional appropriations instructed the military to study large temperature changes in the Arctic Ocean and their possible “impact on global climate change” and comply with Annex V of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution by Ships (MARPOL).[15] At the same time, Roy Salomon, a Pentagon representative in Kyoto in 1997, raised concerns in a summer 1999 article in the Federal Facilities Environmental Journal. He pointed to growing U.S. emissions between 1990 and 1997 and detailed Pentagon energy usage, while noting a challenge during the negotiations was to ensure that emissions reductions did not negatively impact “competitiveness” and military readiness. He touched on other points relating to Defense Department concerns, including the need to ensure that military operations and training were not affected by new reductions (which the Clinton administration recognized) and the Pentagon’s efforts to “improve energy efficiency.” Finally, he stated that the Kyoto agreement represented a “step toward” meeting U.S. objectives “for environmental security and regional stability.”[16]

In the years that followed, military leaders continued to cast themselves as environmentally responsible and committed to environmental security. This included an assertion that the U.S. Navy would have “environmentally sound” ships, a commitment to researching a reduction in chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) use, and calls for more efficient fuel use and alternative fuels. It is probable that these actions transpired, considering that the U.S. Navy declared that its aircraft carriers were “CFC-free” in April 2009, even though discharges by the U.S. Navy of substances that deplete the ozone has been reported.[17] Some sources even asserted that environmental stewardship was integrated into military operations in Balkan War. Military leaders like Rear Admiral Larry C. Baucom professed environmental security and environmental protection to be compatible with Pentagon objectives.[18]

However, the U.S. military retained an arsenal of over 500,000 tons of munitions and consumed millions of gallons of gasoline, with over 2 million gallons consumed by the Army Test and Evaluation Command alone in fiscal year 1999. Because of this, there continued to be calls for military vehicles to conserve fuel and military leaders arguing for a balance between “environmental responsibilities” and the demands of military readiness, necessitating partnerships with various organizations.[19]

All the while, the Pentagon continued to believe that the climate change negotiations were an important way to achieve military objectives. Senior military officers communicated this point regularly, for instance through Bruce Harding at the Pentagon’s Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Defense, Installations and Environment, who served as a U.S. military representative at climate change conferences in 2001 and 2002.[20]

Since then, the Pentagon has continued efforts to be more “green” and “sustainable” while still pressing for recognition of military requirements. During much of the Bush-43 Presidency, although the White House belittled climate change concerns, there were efforts elsewhere in the Administration, including at DOD, to address the crisis. For example, the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment commissioned a controversial 23-page report in 2003 which stated that climate change should be a “U.S. national security concern.”[21] In the Obama administration, attention to the environment grew substantially, including the enactment of policies such as expanding investment in renewable energy on military bases. Despite full-blown climate change denialism effectively becoming national policy in the next administration, specific initiatives taken under Obama remained in effect. The Biden administration has continued to implement a return to treating climate change as a genuine threat and recognizing a role for the military in addressing it. Most recently, the U.S. Army’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Installations, Energy and Environment issued a 20-page climate strategy, while the Army’s Futures and Concepts Center, other military organs, and top military brass, asserted that they want the military to be more “green”.[22]

Even so, this has been countered by recent incidents like a military fuel tank leakage in Hawaii which polluted drinking water, forcing thousands to leave their homes and sickening thousands more. In addition, some have criticized the military’s current climate plan as a form of greenwashing.[23] In any case, the Pentagon will continue to integrate environmental policy and national security policy into one, as they have done in the past.

The Documents

Document 1

Source: Department of State FOIA

Department of State offers views on temperature adjustments, global warming potential, marine bunkers, and related issues relating to guidelines for creating national communications under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. While national security is not discussed in this position paper, on pages 3-5 the importance of bunker fuels to U.S. climate negotiators and its parallel to imported electricity are mentioned.

Document 2

Source: Department of State FOIA

Jonathan C. Pershing provides U.S. comments on proposed emissions trading schemes, possible changes to electricity sectors, sustainable transport, marine bunker fuel taxes, and other matters. Pershing, in an attachment entitled “Marine Bunker Fuels Taxes Paper,” comprising pages 22 to 25 of the document, comments that the U.S. delegation is pleased with changes to provisions on a tax on marine bunker fuels, and implies U.S. opposition to such taxes, noting their effects on global shipping. While neither the military nor national security is mentioned, there is no doubt that such taxes would affect U.S. military operations.

Document 3

This climate change policy report reviews factors impacting U.S. environmental policy and assesses greenhouse gas inventory, plans to mitigate climate change, and climate change adaptation.  It also highlights U.S. climate research, education, and international activities. On page 46, the Department of Defense (DOD) is described as the biggest energy consumer within the federal government. Page 78 notes cooperation between the DOD and Department of Energy (DOE) on an energy efficiency program. Later pages, for example 155, 160, 187, describe the DOD as “involved in climate change issues” and working with the EPA, DOE, NASA, USDA, and Department of State (DOS) in joint initiatives. The report also notes, on page 169, the Pentagon’s involvement in developing biomass energy, and (on page 279) its role in developing energy efficient lighting products in coordination with DOE.

Document 4

Source: Department of State FOIA

Rafe Pomerance forwards to 20 different agencies this draft paper explaining the U.S. position on controlling greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, incentives to encourage developing countries to support the U.S. proposal for the Kyoto Protocol, views of other negotiating blocs, domestic opposition, and negotiating strategies. On page 2, Sherri Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security, is mentioned, indicating DOD’s continuing involvement in climate change policy and negotiations.

Document 5

Source: Department of State FOIA

Deputy Secretary of Defense Hamre, in a letter to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, calls on the State Department to “protect national security” by adding specific provisions to the Kyoto Protocol. The document directly states some of the DOD’s core concerns regarding climate change negotiations and spells out what the Pentagon wants to see within the Kyoto Protocol, including emissions reductions which are “consistent with national security.”

Document 6

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

Eugene B. (“Gene”) Sperling, Katie McGinty, Daniel Tarullo, Jim Steinberg, and Todd Stern request decisions from President Clinton on climate change policy measures to advance U.S. environmental goals domestically and internationally. On the final page of this memorandum, the authors write that the DOD is seeking an exemption under the climate treaty due to concerns that “fuel reduction requirements could hamper military operations.” They note that while the president’s advisers agree with the DOD’s objective, they may disagree on the scope of the exemption. They further indicate that they are working with the DOD to clarify the Pentagon’s objectives, resolve differences in positions, and note they will provide further information on the issue the following week. Although this document calls it a “national security exemption,” it is, more accurately, a set of exemptions.

Document 7

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

The White House Office of Environmental Initiatives describes principles guiding President Clinton’s climate change policies and frameworks for action and presents fact sheets on various environmental issues. Reflecting the scope of the military’s involvement with climate policy, the DOD is mentioned on page 16 as working with the DOE, Department of Housing and Urban Development, EPA, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, and FEMA, along with industry partners, on the Partnership for Advancing Technologies in Housing. Such a program is committed to developing, demonstrating, and deploying “housing technologies and practices” in order to make cheaper homes that are more resistant to disaster, more sustainable, and “provide a safer working environment.”

Document 8

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

Office of Science and Technology Policy advisers Rosina M. Bierbaum, Peter Backlund, and Susan Bassow provide background, scientific focus, research priorities, talking points, and answers to questions about interagency U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program (USGCRP). On page 1 of this briefing paper, the DOD’s involvement in USGCRP and cooperation with other agencies are mentioned. This document serves as further evidence of the DOD’s integral involvement in climate change policy during the Clinton administration.

Document 9

Source: Department of State FOIA

State Department negotiator Mark Hambley forwards notes taken by U.S. diplomats on meetings at the fourth Conference of Parties to U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. He mentions that Holly Kaufman, one of the DOD representatives in Buenos Aires, took notes on an afternoon meeting of the U.N. Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and joint meeting of SBSTA and the U.N. Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). In her notes, on pages 5 and 6, she describes discussions on environmental efficiency, flexible mechanisms within the Kyoto Protocol, a U.S. proposal for consideration of other climate models, the fact that some countries favor a continuation of the joint implementation phase, and additional topics. While national security is not directly mentioned, it does reveal the DOD’s interest in these topics, fitting with the Pentagon’s focus on “environmental security” which took center stage in the 1990s.

Document 10

Source: Department of State FOIA

William S. Breed, Dan Benton, and Paul Schwengels report on the fourth Conference of the Parties to U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting on technological development, technology transfers, and climate research and observation. While Breed is an environmental scientist who worked for the DOE’s Office of Policy and International Affairs, and Schwengels worked as a senior program manager for the Environmental Protection Agency, Benton worked for the DOD. He was the Pentagon’s Associate General Counsel. His involvement indicates the Pentagon’s interest in technology transfer, development, climate research, observation and involvement in climate change negotiations.

Document 11

Source: Department of State FOIA

Mark Hambley forwards to U.S. government colleagues more notes taken at meetings of the fourth Conference of Parties to United Nations Convention on Climate Change.  Topics include flexible mechanisms, compensation for developing countries affected by climate change, and scientific research and observation. Hambley attaches notes, on pages 6 and 7, by Colonel Benton, one of the DOD’s representatives, on the afternoon SBSTA session, which summarize the discussion by delegations about climate change research, observation, and methodological issues. Benton summarizes the argument by Austria, on behalf of the European Union, that bunker fuels should be included in national totals. He then notes U.S. pushback to this suggestion and describes a Swiss call for the SBSTA/SBI looking at chlorofluorocarbon substitutes rather than at a meeting of the Montreal Protocol parties.

Document 12

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

Stuart Eizenstat addressed the fourth Conference of Parties to U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, calling for further environmental cooperation to combat climate change.  His prepared remarks highlight the Kyoto Protocol’s flexible mechanisms, including emissions trading schemes, emissions reductions by developing countries, carbon sinks, and treaty compliance. On the second page of his speech, he says that the U.S. will sign the Kyoto Protocol and that Washington is “guided by the firm belief that the signing will serve our environmental, economic, and national security goals.” The latter phrase refers in part to the accomplishment of the military’s objectives in Kyoto the previous year at the third Conference of Parties.

Document 13

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

U.S. negotiator Hambley forwards reports from the Bonn climate change conference on meetings regarding developing country communications and bunker fuels. In the attached report, on pages 3 and 4, by Kevin Green of the Department of Transportation (DOT), he notes consultations with Swiss representative Jose Romero and other delegates about bunker fuels. Even though national security is not explicitly mentioned, this document indicates the continued importance to U.S. negotiators of bunker fuels as a solvable issue.

Document 14

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

Climate negotiator Mark Hambley provides an informal report of meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. He notes, on page 4, that one of the more controversial issues for nongovernmental organizations is on the proposed decision about bunker fuels, saying the ins and outs of the discussion are covered in DOD and Department of Transportation (DOT) reports.

Document 15

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

Duncan Marsh forwards responses to letters from environmental groups in preparation for a meeting on carbon sinks and related issues. This includes a summary by Frank Loy and Roger Ballantine, on pages 3 and 4, of national security exemptions secured during the third Conference of Parties, and the work by the IMO and ICAO to reduce bunker fuel emissions, reporting of said emissions, and other matters. Dan Benton, a DOD representative, is mentioned on page 5 as receiving Loy and Ballantine’s memorandum. One of the responses, from the US Climate Action Network and affiliated groups, includes a discussion of bunker fuels, on page 11, and calls for closing the “international bunker fuel loophole.” The latter is a reference to the military exemptions gained by DOD at the third Conference of Parties.

Document 16

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

R. Tucker Scully provides background information to Frank E. Loy, and outlines the U.S. position ahead of a meeting with environmental groups about carbon sinks and other related issues. He notes, on pages 7 to 9, the claim by environmental non-governmental organizations that the U.S. is undermining text proposed on international bunker fuels during climate change negotiations. He points to the agreement in Kyoto on the issue and worries that efforts to resolve this issue could “raise questions about the exemption for military operations.” He further argues that diplomats have gone to “great lengths” to refute accusations that the Kyoto Protocol undermines national security. He adds that environmental NGOs can be satisfied by pointing to future action by the ICAO and IMO on bunker fuels. His points are reinforced by talking points for meetings with environmental groups outlined on pages 19 to 22.

Document 17

Source: Clinton Library FOIA

State Department negotiator Mark Hambley reports on meetings of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change subsidiary bodies in Lyon, France, ahead of climate change negotiations in The Hague. This includes noting, on page 4, that no decision had yet been taken on bunker fuels and pointing out DOD representative Dave Peters as being present at the conference. Hambley includes a report from Peters on page 8, which focuses on greenhouse gas emissions from international transportation, noting responses from the Swiss, French, and U.S. delegations on this issue.


Notes

[1] See “Climate Change Is Seen as Most Worrying Threat to World Security,” by Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg, Feb. 18, 2022; “Turning the Tide: Unlearning Helplessness,” Munich Security Report 2022, Feb. 2022; “Federal pipeline regulator will consider climate change in assessing new projects,” by Maxine Joselow, Washington Post, Feb. 18, 2022; “Gas pipeline regulators to consider climate impacts for new projects,” by Rachel Frazin, The Hill, Feb. 17, 2022.

[2] “Congressional Action Relating to DOD and DOE Environmental Activities” (Summer 1996), Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 138-9; Goodman, Sherri W. (Autumn 1996) “DOD Environmental Security: Investing in the Future,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 97, 104.

[3] Goodman, Sherri W. (Winter 1997) “Remarks by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry to the Society of American Military Engineers,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 108-11.

[4] Hourcle, Laurent R. (Summer 1996) “Environmental Compliance and Military Readiness,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 7-11.

[5] Schweiter, Henry J. (Winter 1997) “Defense Environmental Legislation in the 104th Congress- A Retrospective,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 17; Doxey, Kevin, Jeffrey Marqusee and Wendy Dunn. (Spring 1997) “DOD’s Environmental Technology Development,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 74.

[6] Goodman, Sherri W. (Summer 1997) “Environmental Security and the Marshall Plan: A Historical Perspective,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 144-6; Goodman, Sherri W. (Winter 1997) “Remarks by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry to the Society of American Military Engineers,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 107. In the Summer 1997 article, Goodman says that the U.S. military had been working with NATO on environmental matters since 1991.

[7] Goodman, Sherri W. (Winter 1998) “Defense Reform and Environmental Security,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 67, 69, 71; West, Michael A. (Summer 1998) “Interview with Rear Admiral Andrew A. Granuzzo,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 14-5; Katz, Michael A. and Jerry R. Hudson (Spring 1998) “National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 113-4.

[8] “Parties,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 4, 1998. The document also listed, on page 24, a military representative from Saudi Arabia, Sayed Faithi Al-Khouli, an economic advisor of the Meteorological and Environmental Protection Administration, part of the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation.

[9] See “John D. Gibson,” Sourcewatch; “Holly Kaufman,” Sun Valley Forum, “Holly Kaufman,” GreenBiz; “Principal’s Biography,” Environment & Enterprise Strategies; “Holly Kaufman,” HuffPost; “ENB Retirees,” Earth Negotiations Bulletin. Kaufman also noted her former work in a December 20, 2017 tweet, writing that “the Nt’l Sec Strategy included climate change as threat since I worked on it at Defense Dept under Clinton in 1996.” She later worked as part of a “clean energy” organization on behalf of then-candidate Joe Biden in 2020 as noted on her LinkedIn , and co-authored an article with Goodman and former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), John Conger, in December 2021.

[10] Green is now Division Chief of DOT’s division on Corporate Average Fuel Economy. In 2000 he authored a four-page document on ways to reduce emissions in the transportation sector.

[11] “Parties,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 5, 1999; “Parties,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 6, 2000, p. 59-60. Peters, who worked within the Pentagon’s Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security, would later describe himself as a “DOD worldwide pollution prevention leader.” He is also described by dtp-consulting as a “negotiator on the International Climate Treaty.”

[12] See “Duncan Marsh,” Climate Solutions which describes him as “a former US climate change negotiator, serving the US State Department from 1997 to 2001” and states that “he worked on the Kyoto protocol, the predecessor to the Paris climate agreement.” His LinkedIn states that he was a Foreign Affairs Officer from 1997 to 2001.

[13] In a March 31, 1998 press briefing, Sandalow noted that he was at the Council on Environmental Quality as associate director for the global environment and with the National Security Council as director for environmental affairs. He left post as assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs on January 19, 2001. He would return to positions within the U.S. Department of Energy between 2009 to 2013.

[14] Other groups included Center for Environmental Law, Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, National Environmental Trust, National Resources Defense Council, Ozone Action, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund, and 20/20 Vision. Additional groups signed the appended report, some of which did not sign the original letter.

[15] “Congressional Action Relating to DOD and DOE Environmental Activities” (Winter 1999), Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 103, 122. The Pentagon had been allocated money to prevent pollution from ships to “authorize discharges resulting from the use of pulpers and shredders” in 1996, consistent with the MARPOL Convention, according to page 117 of “Congressional Action Relating to DOD and DOE Environmental Activities” (Summer 1996), Federal Facilities Environmental Journal.

[16] Salomon, Roy K. (Summer 1999) “Global Climate Change and Military Readiness,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 135-7, 139-42. By 1999, Saloman was no longer a Pentagon employee but he was working for them as an senior associate at the Booz Allen & Hamilton advising the Pentagon on “methodologies for calculating greenhouse gas emissions associated with bunker fuels and military operations and training.”

[17] See “NAVSEA Eliminates CFCs Onboard Carriers,” MarineLink, Apr. 6, 2009; “Navy settles environmental violations at Naval Station Norfolk,” Environmental Protection Agency, May 6, 2015.

[18] Yarosckak, Paul J. (Autumn 2000) “Department of the Navy – Fall Update,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 136, 138-40, 142-3; Walker, Paul F. (Autumn 2000) “Environmental Management of Military Munitions and Lands,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 142-3; Zettersten, Gay C. and Debra A. Dale (Winter 2000) “U.S. Army Environmental Protection Activities during Operations Joint Endeavor, Joint Guard, and Joint Forge,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 24-26; McCall, Thomas (Autumn 2001) “How to Succeed in Winning and Maintaining Public Support for Military Testing and Training in the United States,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 97; West, Michael A. (Summer 2001) “Interview with Rear Admiral Larry C. Baucom, Director of the Environmental Protection, Safety, and Occupational Health Division of the Department of the Navy,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 7-8, 18.

[19] Canes, Michael E., Daniel P. Jackson, and Terri M. Jenkins (Autumn 2002) “Army Test and Evaluation Command Non-Tactical Vehicle Fleet: A Strategy for Complying with Executive Order 13149,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 73-4, 76, 78; “Congressional Action Relating to DOD Environmental Activities” (Summer 2003), Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 116; West, Michael A. (Spring 2003) “Interview with Ray DuBois, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment); Paul W. Mayberry, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Readiness); and Benjamin Cohen, General Counsel,” Federal Facilities Environmental Journal, p. 8, 10.

[20] “List of Participants,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 7, 2001, p 38; “Parties,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 8, 2002, p. 37.

[21] “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security,” by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, October 2003; “To Take Climate Change Seriously, the U.S. Military Needs to Shrink,” Time, Alejandro de la Garza, Feb. 17, 2022. The Time article also notes that “about 70% of all the DOD’s energy use.”

[22] U.S. Army, “Climate Strategy,” February 2022; “Cutting Carbon Pollution in America,” Obama Administration White House Site, accessed May 17, 2022; “Obama: Climate change a national security issue,” by Leo Shane III, Military Times, May 20, 2015.

[23] See “Pentagon shutting down fuel tank facility in Hawaii that leaked into drinking water” by Ellen Mitchell, The Hill, Mar. 7, 2022; “Pentagon asking for $1B for Red Hill closure” by Kim Jarrett, Center Square, Mar. 29, 2022; “Pentagon to shut down leaking fuel tank facility in Hawaii” by Lolita S. Baldor, Associated Press, Mar. 7, 2022; “Pentagon Shuttering Hawaii Fuel Storage Facility that Leaked and Sickened Military Families” by Rebecca Kheel, Military.com, Mar. 7, 2022; “Is super-polluting Pentagon’s climate plan just ‘military-grade greenwash’?” by Iffah Kitchlew, The Guardian, Mar. 10, 2022.


ADDENDUM

Editor’s Note: I removed this text after agreeing that it deviated too much from the point in this piece. But, in order to be totally transparent, I’m publishing that text, for the first time, here.

In August 2009, in the first year of the Obama administration, Todd Stern, the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, argued that the “national security threat” posed by climate change could be an argument for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, otherwise known as the Waxman-Markey Bill. The law proposed a system known as cap and trade in which the U.S. government could cap the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the U.S. could emit and then allow companies to trade and buy permits to emit these gases.

Stern’s email to Jacob J. Sullivan, Huma Abedin, and Cheryl D. Mills, all advisors to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also pointed to the role of the Pentagon in combating climate change and said this interconnected with U.S. national security policy. [Document 18] Mills later forwarded this email to Secretary Clinton to inform her of Stern’s strategy. Although the Waxman-Markey Bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives, it never came before the Senate for a vote or discussion. [1] Even so, the email shows the continued importance of the Pentagon’s actions to environmental policymakers, even though Pentagon representatives stopped appearing at climate conferences as part of the U.S. delegation in 2002.


Document 18

Email Message, United States Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern to Jacob J. Sullivan, Huma Abedin, and Cheryl D. Mills, Excised Copy, Forward Copy, Subject: Broder Cover Story in Sunday NYT [Classification Unknown]

Date: 2009-08-10

Source: Department of State FOIA

Description: Todd Stern, the new U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, recommends to Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton’s advisers that the Obama administration use the “national security threat” posed by global climate change as argument for passage of proposed environmental legislation. This email message notes the role of the Pentagon in fighting climate change and how that is intertwined with national security policy. Cheryl D. Mills later forwards the message to Secretary Clinton.

Notes

[1] See “Was Waxman-Markey A Waste of Energy?,” by Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones; “Why the Climate Bill Died,” by Bryan Welsh, Time.


Photos I wanted to add but were not added in the final post for some reason:

John J. Sheehan (left), U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry (center), and Lt. Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm (right)
Supreme Allied Commander John J. Sheehan (left), U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry (center), and Lt. Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm (right) at Camp Lejeune in August 1996. Perry, as Defense Secretary, was a big proponent of the Pentagon’s focus on environmental security as part of the military’s mission. (Photo credit: National Archives at College Park)
Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre
Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre answers a question at a July 8, 1999, Pentagon press briefing on U.S. participation in NATO Operation Allied Force. In September 1997, Hamre wrote a letter to Secretary of State Strobe Talbot calling for Kyoto Protocol provisions that “protect national security.” (Photo credit: Department of Defense)
Holly Kaufman
Holly Kaufman shaking hands with Vice President Al Gore. She served as a Pentagon representative in Buenos Aires at the UN Climate Change Conference in 1998. (Photo credit: Environment & Enterprise Strategies)
Stuart Eizenstat
Stuart Eizenstat appears before The Senate Judiciary Committee in October 1999. Eizenstat, the Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs from 1997 to 1999, spoke to the fourth Conference of Parties in November 1998, noting that the Kyoto Protocol fulfills U.S. “national security goals.” (Photo credit: US Department of the Treasury. Also see here)
Bruce DeGrazia
Bruce DeGrazia speaking on procurement and funding of homeland security programs in October 2002. In 1999 and 2000, he served as the Pentagon’s Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Environmental Quality and was one of the Pentagon representatives at global climate change conferences during those years. (Photo credit: C-Span: https://www.c-span.org/video/?173351-1/homeland-security-financing at 0:7.22)
Dave Peters
Col. Darrell Jones, Ken Paton, Col. Thomas Koning, and Col. David “Dave” T. Peters, during the ceremony in 2003. Peters was a Pentagon representative at the global climate change conference in 2000, along with other military officials. (Photo credit: US Army Corps of Engineers New England District, “Yankee Engineer”: https://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/AA/00/06/45/10/00036/03-2003.pdf (see page 11))
Secretary Clinton announces that Todd Stern is appointed as the Special Envoy on Climate Change in January 2009. Stern sent an email to Clinton’s advisors arguing that the “national security threat” posed by climate change could be used to argue for the Waxman-Markey Bill. (Photo credit: State Department photo by Michael Gross, also here)