Vice President Kamala Harris described climate change as “a very real threat to our national security” during her Friday commencement address to graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy.
In her speech to more than 1,000 graduates, Harris said climate change must be addressed by everyone, including the military, because the world has entered a “new epoch” with a number of growing security challenges. She added that one country’s carbon emissions alone can threaten the sustainability of the whole planet.
“And I look at you and I know you are among the experts who will navigate and mitigate this threat,” Harris told the graduates, referring to climate change.
“You are ocean engineers who will help navigate ships through thinning ice,” she continued. “You are mechanical engineers who will help reinforce sinking bases. You are electrical engineers who will soon help convert solar and wind energy into power, convert solar and wind energy into combat power.”
Harris also told the graduating midshipmen they may soon be able to pack a “rolled-up solar panel” for power instead of traditional batteries, joking that even the Marines wouldn’t want to carry around heavy batteries. (RELATED: John Kerry: Fossil Fuel Workers Who Lose Their Jobs Will Have ‘Better Choice’ To Go Make Solar Panels)
“Just ask any Marine today: Would she rather carry 20 pounds of batteries or a rolled-up solar panel?” she said. “And I am positive, she will tell you a solar panel. And so would he!” The vice president laughed as she made the remark.
President Joe Biden’s administration has prioritized addressing climate change as a whole-of-government effort. His climate agenda calls for $2 trillion in federal spending, along with a significant reduction in carbon emissions and an overhaul of the nation’s power sector toward renewable energy.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called climate change an “existential threat” during a speech in April, and the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 mentions combating climate change as a tail-end priority for the U.S. military.