The U.S. military’s latest national security strategy identifies climate change as an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources.

Last week, the Administration announced a comprehensive strategy on climate change and national security.  But there was no mention of money: how much it would cost or where the money would come from.

A new IPS report, “Combat vs. Climate: The Military and Climate Security Budgets Compared,” has stepped in to provide the most accurate climate change budget currently available, since the federal government hasn’t produced one since 2013.

The report found that the U.S. spends 28 times as much on traditional military security as on climate security. And while we would need to spend $55 billion annually to reach global clean energy transition goals, IPS has calculated that the administration has only requested $21 billion for FY 2017.

In a month we’ll know whether we’ll have a climate denier or an advocate for climate action in the White House, and a Congress either continuing to resist or ready to tackle this threat. They’ll need to know what we’re currently spending as a baseline for debate over what we need to spend.

This report ties the military’s own assessment of its urgent threats to a budget that outlines a “whole of government” reapportionment that will put us on a path to averting climate catastrophe.

“If we spent an ounce on climate change prevention for every pound of military cure, that is, a dollar for every 16 spent on the military, it would actually be an improvement,” lead author Miriam Pemberton said. Currently the proportion is 1 to 28.

“Though China has overtaken the U.S. as the biggest producer of greenhouse gases,” she added, “it is currently achieving a better balance between military and climate security spending.”

TheCombat vs. Climate: The Military and Climate Security Budgets Compared is available online at:

 About the lead author: Miriam Pemberton directs the Peace Economy Transitions project at the Institute for Policy Studies. With Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress, she led the team that produced the annual “Unified Security Budget for the United States” from 2005 to 2013.


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