New Climate Security Report has Implications for NATO and COP26

By Danice Ball and Lily Feldman

Earlier this month, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released the World Climate and Security Report (WCSR) 2021, the second in an ongoing series of annual reports. The report dives into climate security risk assessments for a few hotspot regions, including Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and also provides concrete tools to help policymakers address the growing unprecedented threats. A unique inclusion in this year’s report is a new Climate Security Risk Matrix and Methodology, which allows for evaluation of comparative climate risk among countries. In addition, the report features a Climate Security Risk Perception Survey, aggregating forecasts of climate risks from leading climate security experts in the world. These experts find climate security to be among the most pressing issues the world faces now, and a priority for future planning efforts. Between the Risk Matrix, the Survey, climate security case studies, and policy recommendations, the IMCCS Expert Group believes that policymakers will find the information needed to inform next steps in both preparing for and preventing climate security risks.

RELEASE: International Military Council Issues “World Climate and Security Report 2021” Warning of Catastrophic Climate Risks and Urging Significant Greenhouse Gas Reductions

June 7, 2021 —  Today the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released its second annual World Climate and Security Report, which warns of the compound security threats posed by the convergence of climate change with other global risks, such as COVID-19. The report reveals that the increasing pace and intensity of climate hazards will strain military and security services around the world as they are called on to respond to climate-driven crises, while also facing direct climate threats to their own infrastructure and readiness. The authors also call on security institutions around the globe to act as “leading voices urging significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, given recent warnings about the catastrophic security implications of climate change under plausible climate scenarios.”

The report will be released during a virtual seminar at 10 AM ET/4 PM CET today (RSVP here:  http://bit.ly/WCSR2021) featuring senior climate security experts from NATO, the United States, the UK, and Europe, including NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges David van Weel, former Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gotemoeller, Lt. Gen. Richard Nugee, UK Ministry of Defence, and Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Francois Bausch. 

UPDATE (8 June 2021). See a recording of the report launch event below:

A Growing Crisis: The Launch of the World Climate and Security Report 2021

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7 June 2021 | 10:00 – 11:30 AM EST / 4:00 – 5:30 PM CET

RSVP here: http://bit.ly/WCSR2021

Join the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) for the launch of the 2021 World Climate and Security Report. Featuring remarks by:

  • David van Weel, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges
  • Lt. Gen. Richard Nugee, Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy Lead for the UK Ministry of Defence
  • Sherri Goodman, Secretary General, IMCCS
  • Gen. Tom Middendorp (Ret.), Chair, IMCCS

UPDATE (8 June 2021). See a recording of the release event below.

Survey of Security Experts Warns of Potentially Catastrophic Climate Threats in the Next 20 Years

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By Kate Guy

Urgent climate risks are impacting our world today in profound ways, as leaders from the United States and 40 other countries will discuss in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate later this week. Climate change is no longer a “future” risk that will strike decades from now, but one that is already actively shaping the security landscape for all countries. These risks are now on track to increase significantly in response to the Earth’s continued warming trajectory, and will require new investments in resilience to keep communities safe. Forecasting surveys offer one tool for security actors to plan for this changing–and increasingly dangerous–future. 

For the second year in a row, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS Expert Group) surveyed top climate security experts on their predictions of how and when climate security risks are likely to progress (see last year’s survey here). Their responses offer insightful opinions about which risks this expert community deems the most likely to disrupt security in the years ahead, as well as how these security threats may interact with each other. 

Report Highlight: Climate Security and the Strategic Energy Pathway in South Asia

By Sarang Shidore, Rachel Fleishman and Dr. Marc Kodack

Climate change is not just an environmental issue in South Asia; it is also a major security concern. When overlaid with pre-existing domestic distress and inter-state rivalries that roil the region, it could well act as a tipping point that triggers or magnifies violent conflict. But appropriate policy responses, including institution-building, data-sharing and embracing a rapid low-carbon pathway, provide a way forward. 

These are some of the conclusions we reached in a recent report published by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security titled “Climate Security and the Strategic Energy Pathway in South Asia.” The report examines the impact of climate change in three areas – the India-Pakistan rivalry, the China-India rivalry and within domestic security arenas in South Asia. 

To the UN Security Council: Connect Food Security with Climate Security

By Patrick Gruban (originally posted to Flickr as UN Security Council)[CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Steve Brock and Deborah Loomis

The United States has made food security a key theme of its UN Security Council Presidency for the month of March, and today will chair a UNSC open debate on the links between conflict and food security. In many ways, the Council’s focus on food security is a closely-related continuation of the UK’s emphasis on climate security during its presidency last month. The World Climate and Security Report 2020 identified the deep linkages between climate change consequences and food insecurity across all regions of the globe.

According to the Global Report on Food Crises for 2020, over 135 million people faced acute food insecurity in 2019. The report characterized what it considered significant drivers of acute food insecurity as: conflict (affecting 77 million people in 22 countries), weather extremes (affecting some 34 million people in 25 countries), and economic shocks (affecting 24 million people in eight countries).

Climate Security: A Growing Military Concern That Policymakers Should Heed

Abandoned vessels on the South China Sea: Vietnam and the Philippines have called out China for using seafaring militias to attack fishing boats that Beijing claims are violating its territory (Credit: Trey Ratcliff)

This is a cross-posted excerpt from AsiaGlobal Online

By Rachel Fleishman, Shiloh Fetzek, Andrea Rezzonico, Sarang Shidore

Climate change is not news in Asia: Storms, floods, heat and wildfires regularly dominate headlines. Less appreciated, however, is how climate affects national and regional security – and the need for defense, foreign affairs and energy policymakers to unite with coordinated, systemic responses to prevent the worst outcomes. The authors of two reports on climate security challenges in South Asia and Southeast Asia by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security in Washington, DC, highlight their key findings.

Read the full article at AsiaGlobal Online.

Climatizing Security: Sherri Goodman on Cimpatico

Thunderstorms over the South China Sea – ISS 48

By Elsa Barron

In a conversation with Cimpatico Studios host, Doug Parsons, Hon. Sherri Goodman, Secretary General of the IMCCS and Senior Strategist at the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), highlighted the importance of “climatizing security” in order to identify and respond to heightening climate risks and lead by example in climate change mitigation (e.g. adopting clean energy infrastructure). The conversation followed three major threads: the climate threat multiplier and its effect on the military, the role of international institutions in managing climate security and advancing clean energy, and the implications of U.S. President Biden’s recent executive order on the future of climate security. 

EVENT: Climate Security Risks in the Arctic

Join The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and the Wilson Center for a virtual panel discussion, Climate Security Risks in the Arctic, on 12 March, 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM E.T. RSVP here

Climate change is rapidly changing the Arctic at the same time that security tensions are heightened across the region. How will future climate impacts affect the security environment, operations, and infrastructure of the region? How do Arctic nations understand the changing risk landscape? How can Arctic nations move forward on a “low tension, high effort” agenda in the climate era?

This panel will feature a high-level discussion on the intersection of climate change and security in the Arctic, followed by a dialogue on opportunities to manage future security risks in the region. Panelists will build on the findings and recommendations of two new reports from CCS and its partners: Climate Change and Security in the Arctic and A Climate Security Plan for Canada.

Watch: IMCCS’s Erin Sikorsky on BBC World News

Climate security has featured prominently on the world stage in recent weeks–first at the Munich Security Conference on the day the United States officially rejoined the Paris Agreement and then at the UNSC high-level meeting on climate security chaired by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The IMCCS’s Director, and Center for Climate and Security’s Deputy Director, Erin Sikorsky, joined the BBC World News two times to put these developments in context, and discuss some parts of the world where the climate-security nexus is particularly acute. You can watch her interviews here:

BBC World News – February 19, 2021
BBC World News – February 23, 2021