March 17, 2022

Event Recap: Virtual Town Hall with Rep. Scott Peters – Climate Change and National Security

On March 17, USGLC and Veterans for Smart Power hosted a discussion with Representative Scott Peters (D-CA-52) to discuss the role that diplomacy and national security play in the conversation on climate change. Director Emeritus John Conger of the Center for Climate and Security introduced Rep. Peters and set the tone of the conversation to focus on how climate change needs to be incorporated more thoroughly into U.S. diplomacy and development strategies.

Key Quotes from the Conversation

John Conger: “Climate change is a driver of instability around the world. It is opening up regions like the Arctic, even as it drives people out of their homelands in Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. [Climate change] in many ways, is changing the strategic environment in which our diplomats and foreign policy experts must operate, and it must inform their actions and their strategies going forward.”

Rep. Scott Peters: “Of course, in foreign relations, so much is left to the State Department… I think the biggest contribution we can make in Congress is a commitment to funding it appropriately. There’s got to be room to do more strategic investment… We should be investing a little bit more in energy security around the world, both to create alliances and also to mitigate climate change.”

Watch the Full Conversation

Facts on the Disproportionate Impact of Climate Change

While global leadership on climate change will require multi-faceted policy solutions, there is consensus that extreme weather and disruption from drought, flooding, and conflicts over natural resources disproportionately affect the developing world.

  • By 2050, more than 143 million people could be driven from their homes by conflict over food and water insecurity and climate-driven natural disasters, according to the World Bank.
  • Of the 124 million people worldwide who face “crisis levels” of acute food insecurity, 76% were affected by climate shocks and extremes, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, and more than half of the people in developing countries live in rural communities dependent on agriculture – a sector highly vulnerable to environmental conditions.
  • A warmer climate could lead to an additional 250,000 people dying of diseases including malaria each year between 2030 and 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

Read more information about climate change in our factsheet.

Speaker Bios

Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52)

Congressman Scott Peters serves California’s 52nd Congressional district, which includes the cities of Coronado, Poway, and most of northern San Diego. First elected in 2012, he currently serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the Joint Economic Committee. Scott is a civic leader who has made improving the quality of life in San Diego his life’s work. After a 15-year career as an environmental lawyer, Scott was elected to the San Diego City Council, where he later became the City’s first City Council President. As a Member of Congress, Scott’s emphasis has been promoting and expanding San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, advocating for San Diego’s pivotal role as a partner in the national defense, and making government work again.

Read Rep. Peters’ full bio here.

John Conger

John Conger is Director Emeritus of the Center for Climate and Security, Senior Advisor to the Council on Strategic Risks, and Senior US Advisor to the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). John previously served as Director and Senior Policy Advisor with the Center for Climate and Security, and as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as well as a number of other senior positions within the U.S. government and the private sector. He is also President of Conger Strategies and Solutions, LLC, and a non-resident senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Read John Conger’s full bio here.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition ( is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.