Analysis & Opinions - Center for a New American Security

Institutionalizing Climate Diplomacy in the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service

| Mar. 07, 2023

The climate catastrophe is one of the most pressing and consequential challenges of the 21st century. Its impacts will extend beyond the immediate environmental consequences that are already unfolding. As it is, 80 percent of the world’s land mass has experienced climate change, and 85 percent of the world’s population has experienced weather events exacerbated by climate change. The climate crisis will unleash sweeping social, political, and economic consequences, critically impacting the United States’ national interests. It will exacerbate myriad challenges facing the country and its partners, including food insecurity, refugee crises, and great-power competition as the United States strives to shape international norms and practices. To meet these challenges and maintain global leadership, the United States needs a diverse, nuanced, and data-driven approach to climate resiliency. U.S. foreign policy should prioritize climate diplomacy with an urgency that is comparable to any other U.S. national security interest.

The United States can no longer afford to pursue its climate agenda on an ad hoc basis, responding to each crisis in isolation and mainly committing to climate resiliency in name but not in practice. Instead, the United States should institutionalize its commitment to climate diplomacy by establishing a climate cone, or specialized track, in the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service that is dedicated to tackling climate change, its security and economic risks, and the challenges of global coordination. Creating this cone will ensure that U.S. Foreign Service officers are trained on the issues and science behind climate change while building U.S. capacity to mitigate the impacts of climate change and restoring leadership in an arena in which the country’s dedication has been inconsistent.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: White Menchaca, Jacqueline.“Institutionalizing Climate Diplomacy in the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service.” Center for a New American Security, March 7, 2023.

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