WASHINGTON – The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal will more clearly than in the past delineate how the U.S. military proposes to pay for climate change mitigation efforts, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

The push comes after extreme weather, fueled by a warming of the earth’s atmosphere, has wreaked havoc on Americans across the country this summer. For the military, that means billions of dollars needed annually to maintain or repair installations, reduced training opportunities amid excessive heat and smoke and an increasing demand for forces to help civilian authorities recover from disaster, Hicks said.

“We are definitely looking at that both in our strategy development efforts, and in the fiscal year 2023-2027 [budget] review process,” she said Sept. 8 at the Defense News conference. “These are not ideological issues of climate versus war-fighting. This is about ensuring we are resilient and capable for the warfighter of the future, and we’ll be making those investments.”

Hicks said climate change-related spending will be “very clearly tagged out in the FY23 budget displays.”

“You’d be able to track much better than the department has in the past what is spending on climate,” she added.

Defense leaders are expected to present their fiscal 2023 budget proposal to Congress in the spring. Work on the spending plan will ramp up through the fall and winter.

Challenges associated with climate change have steadily risen to the top of the U.S. national security agenda. Early this year, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin instructed the defense workforce to plan accordingly.

“The Department will immediately take appropriate policy actions to prioritize climate change considerations in our activities and risk assessments, to mitigate this driver of insecurity,” Austin wrote in a statement. “There is little about what the Department does to defend the American people that is not affected by climate change. It is a national security issue, and we must treat it as such.”

Hicks today noted that activities are underway, through executive orders, to tie defense contractor responsibilities to climate change mitigation policies.

For example, the Defense Department published a Federal Register notice in July pinging contractors for feedback on a proposed addition to the canon of military acquisition regulations on greenhouse gas emissions tracking.

“There are some executive order implications already out,” Hicks said. “I would anticipate there will be more both regulatory, meaning, coming through statute — certainly at the state level we see plenty of that — and then again there may be more executive actions that have implications for our contractors.”

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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