Center for American Progress

RELEASE: The Trump Administration Must Recognize that Water Security Due to Climate Change Puts Americans at Risk
Press Release

RELEASE: The Trump Administration Must Recognize that Water Security Due to Climate Change Puts Americans at Risk

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. military, intelligence community, America’s closest allies, scientific experts, and many international organizations all count climate change as a threat multiplier with the potential to put U.S. national security at risk. Yet, early actions from the Trump administration have ignored these concerns, opting instead to cut funding to vital government agencies and rollback important regulations that will put the United States on the path of resource insecurity.

The Center for American Progress released an issue brief today — on the United Nation’s World Water Day — looking specifically at the impact of climate change on water resources, as well as the effect it is having—and will continue to have—on national and international security.

“Perhaps the most pressing area of concern at the nexus of climate change and national security is that of water security,” said Carolyn Kenney, Policy Analyst for the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at CAP and author of the paper. “We are already seeing the effects of a changing climate on global water resources, including U.S. water resources. Coupling those effects with a boom in human population, demographic shifts, and the loosening of environmental regulations, the world faces the real possibility of water scarcity and the consequences that accompany it—the signs of which are already being seen. The Trump administration has been derelict in addressing this issue, and it makes every American less safe.”

The global water cycle affects humanity on its most granular level. Water scarcity can lead to food and energy shortages and has been known to cause heightened social tensions and even violent conflicts. Climate change as a threat multiplier makes water scarcity an even more acute problem, as is already being seen in droughts in the United States and abroad. The Trump administration, rather than tackling this difficult problem head on, has chosen to disengage from the issue and undo much of the work done by previous administrations to address climate change.

The paper offers ways the United States and the international community should respond to climate change and the water scarcity that can come from it. Those responses include truly effective implementation of recent water resource management legislation that requires the United States to plan ways to increase access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene in certain high-risk countries. Continued implementation of the historic Paris Agreement will also aid in mitigating the effects of climate change on water security. Unfortunately, the Paris Agreement has been under attack by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans since it was signed, and there is no indication that the administration will undertake a full faith effort to implement other water security measures. This will undoubtedly lead to water scarcity and the subsequent security concerns associated with it—making Americans far less safe.

Click here to read the paper.

For more information or to speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.