President Biden Wants Climate Change As Part Of National Security, But What Do Americans Think?

President Biden Wants Climate Change As Part Of National Security, But What Do Americans Think?

President Biden Sees Climate Change As A National Security Issue, But What Do Americans Think?

Victoria C G Coates

Editor's note: tippinsights gratefully acknowledges its collaboration with the Center for Security Policy on the simultaneous and exclusive release of this important story.

The Biden administration recently released a series of reports that “prioritized addressing the climate crisis both at home and as a core element of our national security and foreign policy,”  a significant shift in U.S. policy.  Recent polling by TIPP provides some timely insights into the views of the American people on climate change as a national security issue, which indicate somewhat more nuanced views than the Biden administration’s position.  While a clear majority of those polled expressed concerns about the ramifications of climate change for our national security, Americans also appear to consider climate one threat among the many that we face, and believe that climate security needs to be balanced with other issues, such as energy security.

In response to the first TIPP query, “To what extent do you agree or disagree that addressing climate change should be a core component of our national security policy?”, while almost 60% of Americans overall agree strongly or somewhat, this response breaks down on party lines.  More than half of Democrats surveyed agreed strongly, and an additional 33% agreed somewhat for a clear majority.  But only 35% of Republicans share these views, and perhaps more significantly only 50% of Independents concur, suggesting this issue does not have overwhelming support across the political spectrum.


When the question is posed in terms of other threats, notably China and the crisis on the southern border, responses shift significantly.  Overall, 40% of Americas are concerned the Biden administration’s attention might be diverted from these threats by a disproportionate focus on climate, compared to 32% who are not. Again, there is a clear partisan divide with only 33% of Democrats sharing this concern compared to 60% of Republicans, while Independents are more evenly divided.

Diverts attention

Finally, the third TIPP question addressed concerns about a potentially precipitous rush to transition away from fossil fuels in the name of climate “before renewable and alternative sources of energy are sufficiently plentiful and reliable.” Overall, 39% of respondents replied in the affirmative, while only 30% were not concerned.  And while there was a partisan divide it was narrower than for the previous two questions, with 34% of Democrats concerned about this issue, while 39% were not. For Republicans, 55% are concerned with only 16% not concerned, and a plurality of Independents (34%) shared this concern, versus 29% who did not.

Energy security

The results of the TIPP poll suggest that a new debate over the U.S. approach to climate is in order, one in which it is possible to see climate as one element to be considered as we consider America’s national security architecture, not the prime directive that trumps all other considerations.  Such a realistic approach might have the added benefit of prioritizing achievable climate goals and recognizing the leading role the United States has played in reducing emissions in recent years.

Last week, the world was treated to the disorderly spectacle of the COP26 conference on climate issues grinding to an impasse over last-minute objections from India and China to references to coal in the final communique.  The disconnect between the idealistic aspirations on display in Scotland and the grim reality faced by Asian countries in the grips of a severe energy crisis was clearly revealed, suggesting a more successful approach may be to find the middle road that the TIPP polling indicates is favored by most Americans.

Victoria Coates is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and a Principal Member of Vi et Arte Solutions, LLC. She served as deputy national-security adviser for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs in the Trump Administration. @VictoriaCoates

TIPP Takes

Gazprom Threatens To Cut Off Gas To Moldova In 48 Hours

Gazprom told Moldova on November 22 that it will cut off gas to the country in 48 hours if it does not pay tens of millions of dollars for recent deliveries.

Last month, Chisinau declared a state of emergency. It started buying gas from countries other than Russia after its contract with Gazprom, the largest natural gas supplier to Europe, expired at the end of September. The two sides failed to agree on details and pricing of a new long-term deal.

But in a breakthrough on October 28, the Moldovan government and Gazprom announced a new price formula for a five-year agreement to keep gas flowing.

Moldovagaz head Vadim Ceban confirmed that Moldova's state energy company received such a notification from Gazprom, saying the sum amounted to 1.3 billion Moldovan lei ($73.5 million)."

In Africa, Blinken Learns There's No Appetite For China Bashing

Traveling across Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saw firsthand the limits of America's influence abroad.


Nowhere on his three-nation tour last week — to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal — was he able to escape obvious signs of the intense competition between the U.S. and China: a geopolitical power struggle that has been playing out largely in China's favor for the past two decades, especially in Africa.

While the Biden administration's efforts to help African nations combat the coronavirus pandemic and encourage climate-friendly policies appear to be making some initial progress, the broader picture is less encouraging.

As Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama pointed out, his country and others want the best deals they can get, and often that means looking to China.

Venezuela's Guaido Calls For 'Sincere Unity' After Election Defeat

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called Monday for "sincere unity" following a disastrous defeat in regional elections the day before.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido 

The fractured opposition broke a three-year election boycott to participate in mayoral and gubernatorial votes but paid for its failure to put up single candidates against President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV).

Opposition figures won in only three out of 23 states, while Maduro allies won 18 governorships and are well-positioned to claim the final two. Guaido has lost much of the luster he gained with his audacious bid in January 2019 to oust Maduro through the popular will.

Although around 60 countries recognized Guaido's claim to be acting president, much of the opposition broke ranks and rejected him as their leader.

Xinjiang Footage Sheds New Light On Uyghur Detention Camps

A YouTube video of Xinjiang detention facilities has rekindled concern over China's crackdown on ethnic minorities.

A Chinese man named Guanguan filmed the video.  He went to Xinjiang after reading a series of articles from U.S. news outlet BuzzFeed News, indicating the locations of several detention centers in the region.

Rayhan Asat, a Uyghur human rights lawyer and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Strategic Litigation Project, said the unfiltered video footage adds to the ongoing documentation of the crackdown that is taking place in Xinjiang and "defeats the state propaganda and disinformation of 'Happy Uyghurs.'"

Since Guanguan revealed his face in the Xinjiang video, many people have expressed concerns over his safety. In a new video uploaded to his YouTube channel on Friday, Guanguan said he hopes that the footage of the detention facilities can be passed on as evidence. "I don't have the ability to directly challenge the Chinese government, but this is what I can do within the limits of my power," he said.

Here is the link to the video


Sign in or become a tippinsights member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.