2020 Proves Pivotal Year for Energy Security and Climate

Damage from Hurricane Florence on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 15, 2018. Hurricane Florence impacted MCB Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River with periods of strong winds, heavy rains, flooding of urban and low lying areas, flash floods and coastal storm surges. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaiah Gomez)

2020 Proves Pivotal Year for Energy Security and Climate

By Kristen Fletcher, Faculty Associate-Research, Energy Academic Group

The year 2020 has been one for the record books in the U.S.: in addition to the worst recorded wildfire season, the U.S. experienced a record-setting hurricane season, with the western and central Gulf coast (and its significant energy infrastructure) feeling the brunt. Worldwide records were set as well: 2020 is set to be the warmest year on record. The first nine months of 2020 saw record concentrations of major greenhouse gases like CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide (despite shelter in place orders), and Arctic sea ice extent was at record low levels for much of the summer. In addition, after formally notifying the United Nations in 2019 of its intention, on November 4, 2020, the U.S. officially departed the Paris Agreement, part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Leaders in the national security and homeland defense communities understand that climatic changes will impact how they do business, from the amount and type of energy used and the investment made in innovative technologies and other energy-reducing strategies. Climate change also will influence future laws and policies—both domestically and internationally—that will guide their strategies and affect abilities to meet mission requirements. There is acknowledgment that within the U.S. and overseas, water scarcity, ocean warming and acidification, sea level rise, extreme weather, risks to public health, and increased wildfires all contribute to and magnify national security risks and help to drive aspects of energy use and policy.

The Energy Academic Group is developing capacity on the law and policy related to energy security and climate, including new technologies and emerging policies to address the current and future challenges facing the Navy and national security community. Surge will feature articles in 2021 on these increasingly important aspects of energy security and climate, and we invite you to visit the resource page at

Ms. Fletcher recently provided a lecture on Climate Change Law and Policy to the Executive Leaders Program of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at NPS. For more information or to request a similar presentation, contact her at

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