The Trump administration will reverse course from previous Obama administration policy, eliminating climate change from a list of national security threats. The National Security Strategy to be released on Monday will emphasize the importance of balancing energy security with economic development and environmental protection, according to a source who has seen the document and shared excerpts of a late draft.
“Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system,” a draft of the National Security Strategy slated to be released on Monday said. “U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.”
This matches President Trump’s vision, sometimes shared using his trademark hyperbole, that the United States needs to emphasize national security and economic growth over climate change.
During his successful campaign, Trump mocked Obama’s placement of climate change in the context of national security. Here’s a sample of his approach from a campaign speech in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in late 2015:
So Obama’s always talking about the global warming, that global warming is our biggest and most dangerous problem, OK? No, no, think of it. I mean, even if you’re a believer in global warming, ISIS is a big problem, Russia’s a problem, China’s a problem. We’ve got a lot of problems. By the way, the maniac in North Korea is a problem. He actually has nuclear weapons, right? That’s a problem.
We’ve got a lot of problems. We’ve got a lot of problems. That’s right, we don’t win anymore. He said we want to win. We don’t win anymore. We’re going to win a lot — if I get elected, we’re going to win a lot.
We’re going to win so much — we’re going to win a lot. We’re going to win a lot. We’re going to win so much you’re all going to get sick and tired of winning. You’re going to say oh no, not again. I’m only kidding. You never get tired of winning, right? Never.
But think of it. So Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and the — a lot of it’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it. And look, I want clean air and I want clean water. That’s my global — I want clean, clean crystal water and I want clean air. And we can do that, but we don’t have to destroy our businesses, we don’t have to destroy our —
And by the way, China isn’t abiding by anything. They’re buying all of our coal; we can’t use coal anymore essentially. They’re buying our coal and they’re using it. Now when you talk about the planet, it’s so big out there — we’re here, they’re there, it’s like they’re our next door neighbor, right, in terms of the universe.
The draft of the National Security Strategy makes this approach policy, emphasizing national security and economic growth over climate change.
President Obama made climate change, and the burdensome regulations that accompany its focus, a primary focus of his administration, including in his National Security Strategy released in 2015. “[W]e are working toward an ambitious new global climate change agreement to shape standards for prevention, preparedness, and response over the next decade,” that report said.
“In some ways, [climate change] is akin to the problem of terrorism and ISIL,” Obama said at climate talks in Paris in 2015. During a weekly address, Obama said “Today, there is no greater threat to our planet than climate change.”
In September 2016, President Obama released a memorandum requiring federal agencies to consider the effects of climate change in the development of national security-related doctrine, policies, and plans. All of this alarmed critics concerned with more pressing security risks.
By contrast, President Trump’s National Security Strategy will focus on conventional and immediate national security risks. The draft says, in part:
North Korea seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons. Iran supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction. Jihadist terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al Qaeda are determined to attack the United States and radicalize Americans with their hateful ideology. States and non-state actors undermine social order with drug and human trafficking networks, which drive violent crimes and cause thousands of American deaths each year…. Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law. Terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal cartels exploit porous borders and threaten U.S. security and public safety. These actors adapt quickly to outpace our defenses.
As for climate change, the draft report says “The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while growing its economy. This achievement, which can serve as model to other countries, flows from innovation, technology breakthroughs, and energy efficiency gains –not from onerous regulation.”