The Future of Research on Climate Change and Armed Conflict

By Dr. Marc Kodack

As military planners look out to future operating environments that they may face, they need to continue to anticipate the changing social, environmental, political, and economic conditions that populations may experience when these populations are increasingly affected by climate change. Climate change will dynamically influence many societal variables including migrationfood security, and conflict. Planners may be particularly drawn to the causes of conflict. Mach et. al (2020) present four areas of future research that would assist planners with better understanding the relationship between climate change and armed conflict.

Online Event | Burning Sand: MENA and Climate Change

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This is a cross-post from the Cambridge Middle East and North Africa Forum.

Written By Patrik Kurath

https://zoom.us/j/91788674458
Meeting ID: 917 8867 4458

By the end of the century, the Persian Gulf could be too hot for human habitation. Water sources like the Golan Heights and the Nile are sources of tensions. With the effects of climate change only set to grow in the coming of years, what are the consequences for the region? With implications on security, migration, and local economies, a change is necessary but remains unclear. While countries like Morocco are embracing solar energy, Saudi Arabia continues to rely on oil. To find out and discuss what this all means, join us on Tuesday 8 September at 4 pm (UK time) to hear our panel of experts discuss the ramifications and possible solutions to this multi-decade challenge.

RELEASE: As ASEAN Meets on Disaster Relief, New Report from Military Analysts Urges Indo-Asia Pacific Leaders to Make Climate Change a “Security Priority”

Washington, DC, August 12, 2020 – As ASEAN convenes the 13th Meeting of its Joint Task Force on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released a new report urging leaders to make climate change a “security priority” in the Indo-Asia Pacific. 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 emergence and ongoing consequences of COVID-19 have exposed serious societal vulnerabilities, even in wealthy nations, and demonstrated that foreseeable crises can have severe social, economic, political and security consequences. Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for using science as a basis for risk management. Likewise, climate science should be incorporated into security policy and planning to avoid worst outcomes. This is according to the new report by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), titled “Climate and Security in the Indo-Asia Pacific.” The report, which is part of the World Climate and Security Report 2020 Briefer Series, articulates six main points.

  • Addressing the root causes of climate change should be a security priority for the region. Addressing the root causes of climate-related security threats, including by considering the full scope of implications of fossil fuel energy investments on national interests and national security, can support regional stability in a changing world. Significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region should therefore be a security priority for the region.
  • Climate change should be higher on the regional security agenda. Though the Indo-Asia Pacific is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate impacts, the security dimensions of climate change are not high on the agenda in policy circles. It is the most disaster-prone part of the world; food and water security are vulnerable to climate impacts; its population and economic infrastructure are concentrated on the coasts and vulnerable to storms and sea level rise.
  • Climate change is worsening underlying security tensions in the region. In a region where geostrategic competition, inter- and intra-state tensions and violent unrest have increased, the report finds that climate change-related stressors including changing river flows, migrating fish stocks, extreme weather and sea level rise could erode coping capacities, increase grievances, worsen underlying tensions and fragilities, overwhelm state capacities and degrade the security environment, if not managed effectively.
  • Many security dynamics in the region are highly sensitive to climate change. Some of the region’s security dynamics are particularly sensitive to climate impacts, e.g. sea level rise and military buildup on contested features in the South China Sea; interstate tensions expressed through (and exacerbated by) transboundary water management disputes; confrontations over fishing driven by declining yields (due to overfishing and pollution as well as climate-driven ocean warming and acidification); and eroding livelihoods potentially driving more piracy and serious organized crime.
  • Foreseeable security challenges related to climate change underly a regional Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent. Security communities in the Indo-Asia Pacific have a responsibility to prepare for and prevent these foreseeable security challenges, alongside development and diplomatic actors, the authors find.  This includes supporting climate resilience by strengthening military capacities for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations, and improving responses to climate threats by supporting long-range planning within government.  
  • Better coordination between security communities is critical for combating climate-related security threats. Better coordination and networking among the international security community working to address climate-related threats, such as through the International Military Council on Climate and Security, can facilitate information exchange and sharing lessons learned. This includes sharing the world-leading expertise of Indo-Asia Pacific militaries in responding to climate-driven disasters.

The IMCCS Secretary General, the Honorable Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist at the Center for Climate and Security and former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, stated:

“Climate change acts as a threat multiplier, increasing security threats across the Indo-Pacific region, from increasingly devastating storms and sea level rise, to migrating fish stocks compromising the region’s food security.  The region’s megacities are at particular risk, which will only intensify with high temperatures and warmer waters.  Now is the time for “climate-proofing” measures, from incorporating climate security risks into foreign and defense policies in the region, to strengthening capacities for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.  Security organizations should work together with diplomatic, development and disaster response agencies to coordinate preparedness, planning and response.”

In highlighting the key findings of the report, General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands, said:

“The COVID-19 crisis has showed us how vulnerable we are to changes in our environment. We can’t hide from them behind our national boundaries and we have to address them collectively. The crisis also taught us what happens if we let time slip through our fingers; the longer we wait to prepare and to respond, the more severe the consequences will be. To me, COVID-19 is a prelude of the disruptions we can expect from our changing climate. This unprecedented report clearly outlines how climate change is already affecting the security situation in the Indo-Asia Pacific region and what the future security risks are. It’s not often that we have such foresight of future security threats. We have a responsibility to be prepared, to build resilience and to not let time slip through our fingers.”

Senior Participant in the International Military Council on Climate and Security, Colonel Sapenafa K. Motufaga, Military and Police Adviser to the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations, noted:

“Fiji’s Prime Minister has stated that the climate crisis means ‘The fight for our very survival.’ These threats to Pacific Islands and across Asia make climate change a critical issue for the international community to pay attention to.”

Senior Participant in the International Military Council on Climate and Security, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, US Navy (Ret), also weighed in: “Military and intelligence leaders have consistently warned that foreseeable threats like pandemics and climate change can cause major national security disruptions. Covid-19 shows why we should pay attention to these threats, manage risks based on the science and act decisively before situations spiral out of control. The security landscape in the Indo-Asia Pacific is getting more complicated, just as climate change impacts on this dynamic. Clearly, these dangers need to be minimized through smart investments in sustainability and sound policy decisions to preserve regional stability and enhanced prosperity.”

Read the “Climate and Security in the Indo-Asia Pacific” report: Here

Direct inquiries to:  Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org

More resources:

Event: Center for Climate and Security Director to Speak to U.S. Congress Today on Climate Change Threats

UPDATE (7/15/2020): A recorded video of the event can now be found here.

At 3pm EST today, the Center for Climate and Security’s Director, the Hon. John Conger, will speak to the U.S. House Democratic Caucus National Security Task Force about climate change threats to security, in the wake of a new report from the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Mr. Conger’s comments will build from two major publications from the Center for Climate and Security that influenced the select committee’s work. The first, titled “A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change,” highlights the potentially severe-to-catastrophic security threats of climate change even at plausible lower emissions scenarios, and the second, titled “A Climate Security Plan for America: A Presidential Plan for Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change,” proposes a comprehensive federal plan for addressing climate security threats, in terms of both prevention/ mitigation and preparation/ adaptation. Click here for the livestream, once the event begins.

The New Water Development Report and Implications for Security

By Dr. Marc Kodack

Climate change has and will continue to have both direct and indirect effects around the world. Changes in water will be one of the most visible direct effects, whether it is too little water, such as during prolonged droughts; too much, such as flooding caused by sea-level rise or tropical storms; or misaligned timing, such as when seasonal rains are early or late. Across numerous societies, the climate change-water interaction will be disruptive, but through mitigation and adaptation actions, this interaction can at least be ameliorated. However, these disruptions will also have significant security implications locally, regionally, and globally depending on their intensity, spatial extent, and longevity, and due to their disproportionate effects on different segments of societies. This deteriorating security environment is very likely to increase the vulnerability of affected populations, enhance inequities, and interfere with mitigation and adaptation actions, which will prolong instability. Thus, any security analysis must integrate the effects of climate change on water, and its attendant effects on the vulnerability of populations, to capture a true picture of the security environment. Resources like the newly-released World Water Development Report (WWDR), titled “Water and Climate Change,” should therefore be taken very seriously by the security community.

New Study: Increased Risk of Armed Conflict Onset After Climate Related Disasters

By Dr. Marc Kodack

Over the past decade, understanding of the relationship between natural disasters, climate change and conflict has increased significantly. The Center for Climate and Security has been exploring case studies of this relationship since 2012, and four years ago, a major study of global datasets found that the “risk of armed-conflict outbreak is enhanced by climate-related disaster occurrence in ethnically fractionalized countries.”

The most recent addition to this growing body of literature is Tobias Ide and his colleagues (2020), who have presented the first multi-method study of climate-related disasters and conflict. They investigate the nature of the pathways connecting these disasters to conflict, as well as the contextual factors. Overall, the authors find that there is “an increased risk of armed conflict onset immediately after climate related disasters.” That’s a significant finding, though the relationship is not a generic one.

The Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent: The Urgent Need For a Climate-Security Governance Architecture

This article was first published on AsiaGlobal Online (April 29, 2020)

By Rachel Fleishman

Today’s international security and governance architecture was born of the post-World War II period, when a conflict-weary world sought to prevent another clash of nation-state alliances drawn into battle by the expansionist actions of a few. Yet many modern security challenges do not fit neatly into postwar constructs, arguesRachel Fleishman of the Center for Climate and Security. Pandemics, mass migration and environmental degradation – and, most prominently, climate change – defy national borders and the world must prepare for concerted, coordinated action to prevent predictable cross-border threats.

Media Advisory: The International Military Council On Climate And Security Offers Expertise On Humanitarian Assistance And Disaster Relief To Assist During COVID-19 Crisis

Media Advisory

Date: April 9, 2020

Contact: Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org 

THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY COUNCIL ON CLIMATE AND SECURITY OFFERS EXPERTISE ON HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE AND DISASTER RELIEF TO ASSIST DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

The International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate. Many in this network have significant experience and expertise in planning and executing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) missions, including in the face of naturally-occurring disasters. 

In this context, the IMCCS Leadership feels it is its duty to offer advice and expertise to assist, in some small way, with management of the ongoing COVID-19 threat. The IMCCS Leadership and Participants below are available to receive inquiries from the media and the public (this list will be regularly updated). 

IMCCS experts available for inquiries

  • The Honorable Sherri Goodman, Secretary General, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), Senior Strategist, the Center for Climate and Security

    Experienced leader in crisis preparedness and response; deep knowledge of environmental, climate and energy threat multipliers including expanding disease vectors; formerly responsible for oversight of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board – military epidemiologists tracking global disease vectors. Formerly the US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security).

  • General Tom Middendorp, Chair, International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands (Ret)

    Experienced leader in multinational crisis management operations around the world from the tactical to the operational level as a taskforce commander, as the National Director of Operations and as the Chief of Defense; experience in disaster relief operations in The Carribbean; deep knowledge on root causes of conflict and Climate Change as a risk multiplier; Fellow at the Clingendael Research Institute and Strategic Adviser at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies on Climate & Security; involved in several innovations of green technologies.

  • Vice Admiral Ben Bekkering, Royal Netherlands Navy (Ret), Participant, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS)

    Planned and executed Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations from the sea, both in command of ships and seagoing staffs, in east and West Africa and the Caribbean. Involved in strategic development of HA/DR within international organizations such as NATO and the EU.

  • Laura Birkman, Senior Strategic Analyst, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

    From 2014-2019, Laura was the lead senior and principal consultant responsible for crisis management and disaster risk reduction at Ecorys, an international research consulting firm. In this role she was responsible for the acquisition and implementation of a number of large EU projects.

  • Captain Steve Brock, US Navy (Ret), Chief of Staff, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), Senior Advisor, the Council on Strategic Risks

    Extensive experience in the identification, planning and execution of multiple HA/DR missions forward deployed at the operational and staff levels as well as  at the national policy level at the Pentagon and White House National Security Council.

  • Colonel Daniel Ruiz Lopez, PhD, Spanish Army (Ret), Participant, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS).

    Researcher in Peace Studies at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa, focusing on civilization collapse in the Anthropocene. Former Director at United Nations field missions in the political, humanitarian and development fields in the Balkans, Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Caribbean for more than 20 years. Experience in the management of the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  • Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, US Navy (Ret), Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), Senior Member of the Executive Committee, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS)

    Appointed and served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment from September 2013 until January 2017. Previously, he served on active duty in the United States Navy for 35 years as a naval aviator, test pilot, aircraft carrier commanding officer, and national security strategist. During his capstone assignment as Commander of the United States Third Fleet he sponsored the development of command, control and communications protocols for international disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations in the first Strong Angel Battle Experiment.

  • Michel Rademaker, Senior Member of the Executive Committee, the International Military Council on Climate and Security, Co-founder and Deputy Director, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

    Michel has 15 years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. His fields of expertise include security strategy, policy, concepts and doctrines, technology assessments, geopolitical and economic security implications of climate change, raw materials and energy supply and serious gaming techniques. He has worked extensively on big data analytics and is experienced in building interactive monitors and dashboards.

  • Paul Sinning, Executive Director, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

    Paul specializes in crisis management. After graduating from the Dutch police academy in 1985, he started his career in the police force in Amsterdam. As a police officer he was responsible for several criminal investigation units. His areas of expertise include strategy, organizational development and complex collaboration issues between organizations responsible for security. He has written several articles and books on the topic of crisis management.

  • Rob de Wijk, founder of the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and Professor of International Relations and Security at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University. 

    Rob studied Contemporary History and International Relations at Groningen University, and wrote his PhD dissertation on NATO’s ‘Flexibility in Response’ strategy at the Political Science Department of Leiden University. He has written several articles and books on the topic of crisis management, and is currently advising the Dutch government, private corporations and the media about the COVID-19 crisis.

Contact: Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org

More information:

IMCCS website: www.imccs.org

IMCCS Leadership: https://imccs.org/leadership/

IMCCS full list of Participants: https://imccs.org/council/

IMCCS Institutional Partners: https://imccs.org/council/institutional-partners/

The International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate.

Climate Change at the Canadian Forces College

“How is Canada preparing to address the environmental impacts on security?” That was the question debated in a packed auditorium at the Canadian Forces College (CFC) on 12 February, 2020. The “Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear” Symposium hosted by the Canadian Forces College (Toronto, Canada) was organized by the College’s Department of Innovative Studies and aimed to sensitize participating students, both Canadian and international (to include audiences tuning in from the United Nations, and the Baltic Defence College) on the security implications of climate change. The expert opinions provided by both Canadian and American national security advisors and analysts, to include Center for Climate and Security Fellows Captain Steve Brock and Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett (both US Navy, retired), helped to frame, and imbue an enhanced understanding of, how Canada’s national and human security imperatives fit into the climate change discourse.

Climate Change More Prominent Than Ever at Munich Security Conference with “World Climate Security Report 2020” Release

Feb 15_MSC_Clim Sec
Munich Security Conference Main Stage Event on Climate and Security, Feb 15, 2020. From Left: Jennifer Morgan (GPI), Kent Walker (Google), Patricia Espinosa Cantellano (UNFCCC), Lindsey Graham (U.S. Senator), General (Ret) Tom Middendorp (International Military Council on Climate and Security), Sheldon Whitehouse (U.S. Senator), Melinda Crane-Röhrs (Deutsche Welle).

Climate change has never been very prominent at the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a leading forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. That changed this year, with the release of the “World Climate and Security Report 2020” by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). The report featured prominently on the MSC stage – at the opening “Hashtag Event” on February 13 and in a later event on the Main Stage on February 15 – which even featured strong U.S. bipartisan support for comprehensive policies combating climate change. These events included powerful contributions from General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS, and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands. These were reinforced by other IMCCS voices during the World Climate and Security Report 2020 side event on February 15, in the media, and by senior defense leaders and IMCCS staff in Luxembourg. Below is a description of the key climate security events during this extraordinary three days – three days of climate change being elevated, as it should be, to some of the highest levels of the international security discourse. The next step will be translating this discourse into actions that are commensurate to the threat.