Navy Quietly Shut Down Climate Change Task Force

2019-08-12T15:09:22+00:00 August 12, 2019|
The Pentagon, looking northeast with the Potomac River and Washington Monument in the distance. The Tidal Basin is seen just below the Washington Monument. The marina which is visible is in Pentagon Lagoon, which is part of the Boundary Channel of the Potomac River. Trees border the Boundary Channel and exist both on the Virginia shoreline and on Columbia Island (an island in the Potomac River).

DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force. (Public Domain)

(By Philip Athey / From E&E News

The Navy has quietly stood down its Task Force Climate Change, created in 2009 to plan and develop “future public, strategic, and policy discussions” on the issue.

The task force ended in March, a spokesperson said, and the group’s tab on the Navy’s energy, environment and climate change website was removed sometime between March and July, according to public archives.



Retired Navy Rear Adm. Jon White, who ran TFCC from 2012 to 2015, said its goal was “never meant to be a never-ending thing,” but to “get things down” and have climate change considerations incorporated into the Navy’s planning.

But he said he sees “little evidence” that the task force’s work has been fully incorporated into the Navy’s decision-making process.

“Across all of [the Department of Defense], it is hard for me to see that climate change is taken as seriously at it should be,” said White, who is currently president of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. “The task force ended, in my opinion, without full incorporation of climate change considerations.”

Normally, Hill said, when a task force ends, “there will be a culminating report that says now all of the activities the task force has either have been completed or taken to other areas.”

White said he is “suspicious” of how quietly the TFCC shut down, something that even he, as a former director, only heard about “third and fourth hand” as more of a rumor than actual fact.

“It was a very quiet canceling of the task force. I didn’t know about it; no one told me,” he said. “Usually, when you stand down a task force, you want to be able to go in there and declare victory.”

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