A U.S. Navy task force created to plan and develop “future public, strategic, and policy discussions” on climate change has been quietly shut down, according to E&E News.
Begun in 2009, the Task Force Climate Change ended in March, a spokesperson told the news outlet, and some time between then and July, the group’s spot on the Navy’s energy, environment and climate change website was removed.
After its inception, the TFCC put out “several reports on the strategic challenge climate change poses, taking a close look at what the melting Arctic means for strategic planning, and the dangers sea-level rise and extreme weather pose to many naval installations.”
A Navy spokesperson told E&E News the task force was dropped because its work is “now duplicative as functions have been transitioned to existing business processes; therefore, the original components of the task force are no longer needed.”
But others find the move suspicious.
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Jon White headed the TFCC from 2012 to 2015 and said he sees “little evidence” that the group’s work was finished, though he also noted that the task force was “never meant to be a never-ending thing.”
“Across all of [the Department of Defense], it is hard for me to see that climate change is taken as seriously as it should be,” White said. “The task force ended, in my opinion, without full incorporation of climate change considerations.”
The TFCC never released a final report, and some are concerned that the decision to end the group’s work is indicative of the Trump administration’s downplaying of climate change.
Alice Hill, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former senior director for resilience on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said, “It’s consistent with the patterns we’ve seen: Efforts with the title ‘climate change’ have either been suspended or renamed.”
President Donald Trump’s insistence that climate change is not a national security threat likely has had a negative impact on Navy officials, White said, either leading them toward apathy on the matter or causing fear of reprisal.
“They don’t want to get targeted by the administration; it’s a battle they don’t want to fight,” he said.