Robert Fleagle Endowed Lecture in Atmospheric Sciences Policy

Cathleen Kelly

Cathleen Kelly

October 13, 2016

7:00, Kane Hall 220

Cathleen Kelly

Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Adjunct Professor of international and environmental policy, Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Lecture: "Tackling Climate Change Security Threats: A Mounting Imperative for the Next President"


About the Speaker

Cathleen Kelly is a Senior Fellow with the Energy and Environment team at the Center for American Progress. She specializes in international and U.S. climate mitigation, preparedness, resilience, and sustainable development policy. Kelly served in the Obama administration at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she led a 20-plus-agency task force to develop a national climate resilience strategy. This strategy helped form the basis of the climate-preparedness pillar of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Kelly also helped formulate the Obama administration’s positions on international sustainable development and climate policy issues.

Previously, Kelly directed the Climate & Energy Program at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she led a highly acclaimed paper series and events on climate and clean energy policy that drew the world’s top energy and climate policy players. She also held policy director and senior policy adviser positions at The Nature Conservancy and the Center for Clean Air Policy and was a professor of international and environmental policy at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, or SAIS.

Kelly is an internationally recognized climate policy expert and a regular adviser to U.S. and European officials on environmental policy issues. She is a prize-winning graduate of SAIS, where she earned a master of arts in international relations and energy and environmental policy.


After years as a back-burner domestic policy issue, climate change is well recognized as a pressing foreign policy and national security challenge. Extreme droughts, heat waves, floods, and other natural disasters—all symptoms of a warming world—are wreaking havoc around the globe, from humanitarian crises and mass migrations to food and water shortages, exacerbated poverty and accelerated conflict.  In the U.S., more extreme weather driven by climate change has caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damages over the past decade. For these reasons U.S. Defense Department leaders flag climate change as a “threat multiplier,” and President Obama has made addressing climate change internationally a top foreign policy priority.

To avert, or at least lessen, future disasters, the next U.S. President will need to advance and implement new policies to cut U.S. emissions. She or he will also need to factor climate change into a foreign policy agenda to reduce the risk of more conflict, mass migrations, and climate-fueled chaos in a warming world. This talk will suggest a climate change-related to-do list for the next president.

Suggested Reading: The Mounting Threats of Climate Change

Past Fleagle Lectures

Back to top