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Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday released a sweeping set of assessments on climate change's threat to national security and its role in fueling migration.

Why it matters: One of the key products, a formal National Intelligence Estimate on climate change, marks the first time all 18 elements of the U.S. intelligence community have released a consensus report on the topic.

  • Separately, an analysis of the impact climate change is having on migration will "mark the first time the U.S. government is officially recognizing and reporting on" the connection, a senior administration official said.
  • The "central recommendation" of the climate and migration report is to establish an interagency policy process, which had not previously existed, the official added.

The big picture: The administration is seeking to breathe life into President Biden's week-one vow to make climate change "central" to U.S. foreign policy and national security.

  • Defense and intelligence analysts in and out of government have long recognized climate-related threats, but the Biden administration is looking to identify and prepare for those risks on several fronts.
  • In order to have a strategy on climate and migration, the official stressed, the government must first "understand the challenge itself."

The administration is also releasing two other analyses, the official said:

  • A Defense Department analysis of the "strategic and mission implications of climate change."
  • A Department of Homeland Security "strategic framework" on climate change that addresses areas like the response to "increases in climate driven emergencies."

Threat level: Analysts are increasingly exploring how climate change can become a threat multiplier due to strains on water supplies, driving displacement, and other forces.

  • It can also create new geopolitical tensions in areas like competition for resources needed for emerging technologies and as petro-states will eventually face a world with declining demand for their products.

What they're saying: A White House summary of the intelligence estimate says the intelligence community sees three broad categories of risks.

  • Increased geopolitical tension as countries argue over how to address climate change and how fast, and competition in the transition to lower carbon energy.
  • Cross-border "geopolitical flashpoints" from the physical effects of climate change.
  • Climate change "straining country-level stability in select countries and regions of concern."

What we're watching: New policies and actions that may flow from the assessments, including from the National Security Council's new interagency working group.

It's a recognition that while climate change is not the primary driver of migration, it can fuel human movement due to flooding and other extreme weather, effects on food security, worsening conflict in unstable nations and more.

  • The administration official, on a call with reporters, said one goal is identifying gaps where officials could "forge new legal pathways to protection."
  • The administration is working with other governments on better monitoring and warning systems for floods, powerful storms, extreme temperatures and other climate-related risks.
  • The report also describes efforts to coordinate with multilateral organizations and NGOs.

The Defense Department assessment will explore areas like "how to train fight and win in an increasingly complex environment."

  • The official also said it explores how climate-exacerbated crises are "likely to increase demand for defense missions and impact critical supply chains, infrastructure and readiness."

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - Health

Biden administration moves to make insurance cover at-home COVID tests

President Biden speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 1. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal government will issue guidance to allow people with private health insurance to seek reimbursement for the cost of at-home COVID tests, President Biden will announce Thursday.

Why it matters: The move — which comes amid growing concern about the Omicron variant and as part of the administration's larger strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID this winter — will expand access to at-home testing for over 150 million people.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.