The IMCCS Welcomes Erin Sikorsky as its New Director

The International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) is delighted to welcome Erin Sikorsky as its new Director. As head of the IMCCS Secretariat, Ms. Sikorsky will be leading IMCCS operations, supported by Kate Guy, IMCCS Deputy Director. She will also be supporting Sherri Goodman, Secretary General of the IMCCS, and General Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS, in their leadership of the IMCCS – a robust network of military and security experts concerned about climate change. Ms. Sikorsky will also serve as Deputy Director of the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR). 

Previously, she was the Deputy Director of the Strategic Futures Group on the US National Intelligence Council (NIC), where she co-authored the quadrennial Global Trends report and led the US intelligence community’s environmental and climate security analysis. She is also the founding chair of the Climate Security Advisory Council, a Congressionally-mandated group designed to facilitate coordination between the intelligence community and US government scientific agencies on climate security matters. Ms. Sikorsky worked in the US intelligence community for over a decade. Prior to joining the NIC, she led teams covering a range of issues related to the Middle East and Africa. Ms. Sikorsky earned a Master of International Affairs at Columbia University, and a B.A. in government from Smith College.

Ms. Sikorsky brings an incredible depth of experience and expertise on climate security to the IMCCS, and we could not be more thrilled to work with her.  

European External Action Service building a Climate Change and Defence Roadmap

This is a cross-post from the Planetary Security Initiative

In an attempt to address the links between climate change and defence,  the European External Action Service (EEAS) has submitted a Climate Change and Defence Roadmap. With this roadmap, the EEAS proposes to integrate climate change into the defence actions of the EU, including in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) – while contributing to the wider Climate-Security Nexus.

In Case You Missed It: A Summary of the Latest Climate Science Information (and Its Security Implications)

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 Dr. Marc Kodack

In case you missed it, the World Meteorological Organization brought together multiple entities, including United Nations-affiliated organizations and others, to publish their collective information on the latest climate science at the end of the summer. Each organization wrote one or more chapters. The overall messages from these chapters include that greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2020 from 2019 despite a small reduction in the increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic; Paris Agreement greenhouse has emissions goals are not being met; the sea level is rising faster than the long-term average; the period 2016-2020 will likely be the warmest five years on record; and the extent of Arctic sea-ice continues to decrease with warming over the next five years continuing at twice the overall rate elsewhere around the globe.

RELEASE: New Report from Military Leaders Urges Brazil to Make Climate Change and Counter-Deforestation a “Security Priority”

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Washington, DC, November, 30 2020 –  The Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released a new report today urging Brazilian leaders to make climate change and counter-deforestation a “security priority,” and to “climate-proof” the nation’s security. The IMCCS is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe – currently hailing from 38 countries in every hemisphere – dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate. The IMCCS is administered by the Center for Climate and Security, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, with the participation of a consortium of international partners. 

How to Prioritize Climate Change in U.S. National Security

By Kate Guy

From the outset of Joe Biden’s run for the American presidency, he pledged to look at national security with fresh eyes. Evolving systemic threats like climate change, often relegated to the portfolios of environmental experts and science agencies, were repeatedly mentioned in his plans to remake U.S. defense and foreign policy. “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” he often reiterated in the closing days of his campaign.

Now, with the first members of President-elect Biden’s national security team announced, it’s clear that he has taken the first steps to make good on these campaign promises. In the past few years, nominees like Blinken, Sullivan, and Haines have each referenced the need for the U.S. to prioritize addressing climate change in its approach to global challenges. And with the creation of a cabinet-level Presidential Climate Envoy, long-time climate security leader John Kerry will sit in every meeting of the National Security Council with his eye trained on climate threats.

A Very Strong Signal: 5 Key Takeaways on John Kerry’s U.S. Climate Envoy Role and Seat on the National Security Council

By John Conger, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

On Monday, U.S. President-Elect Biden announced several members of his national security team.  They included Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, and… former Secretary of State John Kerry as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. While each of these announcements have positive implications for how climate change is addressed by the national security enterprise, let’s explore five key implications of this last announcement. 

U.S. Department of Defense: Funding Available for Environmental Research and Development

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, November 4, 2020—The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is seeking to fund environmental research and development in the Resource Conservation and Resiliency program area.  SERDP invests across the broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced technology development.  The development and application of innovative environmental technologies will reduce the costs, environmental risks, and time required to resolve environmental problems while, at the same time, enhancing and sustaining military readiness.

The UN Security Council’s Lack of Consensus on Climate and Security

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By Dr. Marc Kodack

While climate change and its implications for security have been acknowledged many times by international military leaders (see here for example), as well as by senior leaders in the U.S. Department of Defense (here), the United National Security Council (UNSC) has only addressed the issue in fits and starts thus far, despite the institution’s global charge to maintain international peace and security (here). One reason for this is the individualized lens that each member country uses to assess climate change and its effect on their own security, as well as others. This creates a barrier to a consensus on what the UNSC’s general agenda should be on climate change despite individual resolutions that single out specific areas or states where climate change and its effects on security, e.g., food insecurity, are mentioned and addressed (see here and here). Other U.N. organizations have readily embraced climate change and security within their programs (here).

Climate Change Adversely Affecting Aircraft Performance in Greece: Implications for Militaries?

By Dr. Marc Kodack

The deleterious effects of high temperatures and humidity on the performance of aircraft are exacerbated in many places around the world under climate change. Last year, in a Center for Climate and Security briefer, these effects were discussed for both rotary and fixed wing aircraft. They include reductions in take-off weight because of reduced lift and, longer take-off and landing distances. The result will be that military operations will be at higher risk of disruption or outright failure, particularly in those locations where longer over-water distances need to be traversed. Complementing the briefer is a recent study by Gratton et al. (2020) that collected and analyzed climate change effects on the operation of two types of commercial, civilian aircraft that are commonly used at Greek airports.

The U.S. Military’s Global Supply Chain Threatened by Climate Change

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By Dr. Marc Kodack

Supply chains are the less visible parts of many large, global companies, such as Apple, Toyota, and Boeing. For each of these companies, their many suppliers incrementally provide parts that are eventually assembled into finished products, whether they are hand-held smartphones or part of vehicles that transport a few or many people. Disruptions to suppliers can have devastating effects on the ability of a company to complete finished products. The most recent example of this are the shortages in personal protective equipment, e.g., masks, surgical gowns, and face shields, for health-care workers involved in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Department of Defense (DoD), disruptions to its global supply chain, particularly those suppliers involved in mission-critical products and services, will degrade DoD’s ability to respond when it is called upon. When these disruptions are caused or influenced by climate change, supply chain management under climate change becomes a strategic vulnerability. The probability of a disruption to one or more critical suppliers is never-ending, given their number and dispersed locations around the globe.