Asset Publisher

NPS Climate and Security Network Leads Post-Climate Conference Discussion

NPS Climate and Security Network Leads Post-Climate Conference Discussion

With combating climate change noted as a critical priority in SECNAV Carlos Del Toro’s Oct. 2021 Strategic Guidance, NPS’ Climate and Security Network recently held a post COP26 discussion with senior leaders in the climate security field to help students, like Lt.j.g. Kianna Myles, define research and thesis topics that advance NPS’ impact on this strategic priority.

The world’s largest international climate conference COP26 took place in Glascow, Scotland in late 2021, where senior international and industry leaders discussed methods to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prepare for life in a potentially warmer world.  

With combating climate change noted as one of Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro’s top priorities in his October 2021 guidance, the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Climate and Security Network invited Jennifer DeCesaro, Director for Climate Security and Resilience at the National Security Council, and Erin Sikorsky, Director for the Center for Climate Security and the International Military Council on Climate and Security, for a virtual discussion following COP26 to share their own views on the event with NPS faculty and students, as the university deepens its contributions to the SECNAV’s strategic priority.

NPS Faculty Associate for Research Kristen Fletcher began the discussion emphasizing some of the main topics deliberated at COP26: coal, finance, methane and deforestation. More than 40 countries signed an agreement to phase down coal in electricity generation. More than $130 trillion of private capital from over 45 countries was committed to help progress the clean energy transition, but funds to specifically help developing countries transition was not clarified. The U.S., European Union, and more than 100 other countries representing 70 percent of the global economy pledged to reduce methane emissions. In addition, more than 100 countries pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, representing 85 percent of the world’s forests.

Sikorsky shared her four main climate and security takeaways from the summit. First, climate change must be looked at as both a current and future problem and be addressed using both adaptation and mitigation methods. More specifically, she referenced President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), which aims to support developing countries and vulnerable communities transition to clean energy and properly prepare for climate change.

Second, the military must further analyze the security risks and impacts, particularly looking at how countries like India and China will be impacted by climate change and their motivations for addressing the issue.

Third, Sikorsky said, the military needs a better understanding of how climate change may destabilize governments, potentially providing an opportunity for terror organizations and unlawful activity to surge. 

And finally, she noted that the military should think about opportunities for the U.S. and the DOD to expand and lead in investing in clean energy technology and reducing emissions. Techological innovation often starts in the DOD, and the government as a whole has significant purchasing power that may speed up mass adoption of clean technologies.

Ultimately, the discussion is intended to assist students and faculty with identifying potentially impactful areas of study and research.

“I thought her comments were right on target and gave us a lot to consider in our educational and research roles,” Fletcher said.

NPS Defense Management student U.S. Navy Lt.j.g. Kionna Myles found the discussion long overdue, and fascinating.

“As a whole we have to get out of our reactive mentality and instead take a more proactive approach, especially if we want to stay ahead of our adversaries,” she says. “On a strategic level, it has to be important because if it’s not important on a strategic level then it does not trickle down to the tactical and operational levels.

“For example, I’m going to assume duties as a logistician. Military conflicts are becoming more reliant on logistics as it relates to shipments and personnel, equipment, resources to remote locations … Logistics is a big part of that,” Myles explains. “Effective logistics strategy could either mean the mission fails or succeeds, and when we think about it, things like climate security impacts our ability to effectively perform those types of logistics operations.”

The discussions broadened to provide NPS faculty participating in the effort to share their own perspectives on notable outcomes from COP26. One of the panel members, NPS Meteorology Research Associate Professor Tom Murphree, said that this was the first COP that didn’t seem to center around the uncertainties of climate science, and wondered if this was due to an increase in extreme weather events and the news media’s reporting on the rapid attributions by climate scientists of many extreme events to climate change.

“We have climate change attribution science that’s really strong and rapid, and so the media is getting excited about reporting climate change information because now they can take the disaster and turn it into a climate change story,” Murphree says.

NPS Professor Nick Dew noted how socio-economic pressures may prove to be the catalyst for change that the political system has yet to be.

“I think many of us watching the Glasgow COP play out realized that, after multiple years of ringing the alarm bell, the global political system still is not capable of doing what’s needed to transition quickly to clean energy,” he said. 

“The good news is that markets are now leading this transition with lower costs on all the key technologies, and a lot of new technologies are in the works.,” he continued. “On the other side of the market, consumers – particularly young people – are sending strong demand signals about their preferences for clean energy. This is putting pressure on firms to transition quicker to clean energy, and on cities, which have an outsized impact since so many people live there. Fundamentally, these market forces are a lot more promising right now than hoping for political solutions.”

As NPS’ Climate and Security Network seeks to inform and support campus efforts to impact the SECNAV priority, students seem clearly interested in topics related to climate change.

“There is a tremendous amount of interest from officers at NPS. Not only are our younger officers interested, but I think they sense we’re in a target rich environment for clean energy right now,” Dew explained. “There are lots of opportunities to work on clean energy technologies that improve military capabilities and also reduce climate impacts, which is a win-win. It’s all about finding these win-win opportunities, and I think our students are very motivated to do that.”

Next up for the NPS Climate and Security Network is the Combined Naval Address on Climate, Energy and the Environment featuring highly-respected expert Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, an event marked for the broader Naval education enterprise. For more information on the CSN, visit


bookmarks move script

Current Headlines Sidebar
Asset Publisher

empty content


Media contact box


Office of University Communications
1 University Circle
Monterey, CA 93943
(831) 656-1068