The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate

The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate

The way we use energy presents serious economic, security and environmental challenges. Continued reliance on foreign sources of energy is an expensive, unreliable and dangerous threat that can cause price spikes at home and put our military, protecting American interests abroad, at risk. Additionally, the effects of a changing climate can pose threats such as political instability after natural disasters or resource conflicts.

The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate is dedicated to bringing together economic, science and military experts to increase awareness of the need for national energy policies in service of our economy, national security and climate.


"The problem of global climate change fits squarely within the issue of national security. I believe climate change and national security must be urgently addressed as top priorities before we fall victim to the worst of consequences."

- Former Senator John Warner

Energy Security: The United States sends nearly $1 billion a day overseas to import crude oili, mostly to sustain our transportation sector, placing strain on our diplomatic and defense resources. In fact, the Rand Corporation estimates that American taxpayers spend between $67 and $83 billion each year deploying service members on oil-security missions overseas.ii The ability of the U.S. to receive cheap, reliable energy is often held hostage by countries that control the price of energy reserves or that experience political instability, such as unrest in the Middle East. In order to maintain a safe, clean and reliable energy supply, the U.S. should take advantage of its renewable resources.

  • Transitioning to electric vehicles while increasing fuel efficiency for our cars and trucks would lessen our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the need for military presence in some of the most hostile regions of the world.

Climate Change: Climate change affects the roles and responsibilities of the military in a number of ways. Climate change is projected to increase the number and severity of extreme weather events, which creates the potential for conflict over resources due to increased floods and droughts. According to the National Intelligence Council, as many as 800 million more people will face water or cropland scarcity by 2025.iii On top of more extreme weather, expected rising sea levels and melting Arctic ice sheets could affect military readiness and operations on military bases located near the water.iv

  • Energy efficient technologies and clean power will help reduce these negative impacts.

The Economy: According to the Energy Information Administration, global energy use is expected to increase 49 percent from 2007 to 2035v, driven primarily by developing countries' expanding electricity use and vehicle fleets. Rising demand around the world is likely to make energy an ever more precious commodity—forcing prices up and deterring economic recovery. Additionally, increases in the extreme weather patterns posed by climate change can cause significant property damage and lost work productivity, both key factors in economic well being.

  • Increasing clean energy capacity can help avoid extreme weather and create new American industries. Furthermore, investing in clean energy technologies can spur job growth and enhance our global competitiveness.


Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, amplifying existing problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions. As a result, U.S. resources will likely be drawn upon more frequently to help provide stability, placing added pressure on our energy resources, borders, military and agriculture production. 


The Department of Defense (DoD) accounts for nearly 80 percent of the government's total energy In the field of battle, long fuel convoys that support combat forces on the ground are expensive, dangerous logistically and put soldiers' lives at risk. According to a recent Army study, one solider is killed for every 24 fuel convoys and there are over 6,000 full-up fuel convoys required per year in Iraq and Afghanistan.vii Increased clean energy capacity in the field of battle would reduce energy costs for DoD and make our troops safer. Additionally, the U.S. military plays a key role in American innovation. Technologies that started out as initiatives within DoD, such as global positioning systems and the internet, can transition to civilian society as useful tools to the American public and help spur economic growth.


The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate works to bring together the economic, scientific and military communities to discuss the links between American energy decisions and national security. By advancing these discussions, the Pew Project hopes to formulate solutions that will make the United States more energy independent, prosperous and secure. The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate is an initiative of The Pew Environment Group. For more information, please contact Brendan Reed at



i Census Bureau. U.S. Imports of Crude Oil. 2010.
ii The Rand Corporation. Imported Oil and U.S. National Security, 2009. Pg. 72. 
iii National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2025, November 2008, pg. 45.
iv CNA, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, 2007, pgs. 37-39.
v Energy Information Administration. 2010 International Energy Outlook.
vi The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate. Reenergizing America's Defense. April 2010, pg. 11.
vii Army Environmental Policy Institute. Sustain the Mission Project: Casualty Factors for Fuel and Water Resupply Convoys. September 2009.