The recent creation of a CIA center to study climate change does not mean the agency will be conducting espionage operations against greenhouse-gas emitters or spying on polluted skies or rivers around the world.
“This small unit — which will engage closely with its government counterparts and privatesector experts — is focused solely on the potential national security implications of climate change,” said CIA spokesman George Little.
“Of course, intelligence is provided only to our government,” he said. “This isn’t about deploying clandestine officers to take air samples in polluted cities or to monitor sea lions. It’s about developing analytical insights for policymakers.”
The CIA announced Sept. 24 that it had created the Center on Climate Change and National Security, led by analysts within the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology.
It will examine the national security impact of climate-change phenomena, such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts and heightened competition for natural resources.
“Decision-makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security. The CIA is well-positioned to deliver that intelligence,” said CIA Director Leon E. Panetta.
Much of the work will focus on reviewing and declassifying satellite images and other data that could be useful for scientists.
The center also will involve “outreach” to academics and think tanks. “The goal is a powerful asset recognized throughout our government, and beyond, for its knowledge and insight,” the CIA statement said.
Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at insidether ing@washington-