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Renewed Urgency of Climate Security Action: Launch of the 2022 World Climate and Security Report Series

By Elsa Barron

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has set off a tsunami of global effects, including food, fuel, fertilizer, and finance crises, explained Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center of Adaptation at the International Military Council on Climate and Security’s (IMCCS) 2022 World Climate and Security Report Series Launch

In the midst of these developing problems, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Hon. David van Weel explains that, “Climate change is an ongoing challenge, if we fail to slow it down, the results may be similar to those we can see in wars—famine, loss of land and livelihoods, and migration.”

These overlapping and intersecting crises underscore the need to accelerate the energy transition, which, as IMCCS Director Erin Sikorsky stated, is a win-win-win situation. “It protects soldiers and operations, it undercuts petro-dictators like Putin, and it combats long-term climate security risks.” Therefore, moving from word to deed on decarbonization is a prerequisite for global security. Gen. Tom Middendorp (Ret.), Chair of the IMCCS, noted that militaries, as some of the largest emitters, have an important responsibility to be a leading part of the solution. 

The first report in the World Climate and Security Report Series, Decarbonized Defense: The Need for Clean Military Power in the Age of Climate Change, addresses this responsibility and highlights the tools required to enact change. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Hon. Sherri Goodman, Secretary General of the IMCCS. At the series launch, she noted that one of the most important contributions of the Decarbonizing Defense report is standard-setting for measuring military emissions in order to advance emissions reductions–a process in which NATO can play an important role. 

Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister François Bausch pointed to the advantages of collaboration between NATO and the European Union around decarbonization in order to boost research and innovation around sustainable technologies. This innovation is particularly important for decarbonizing heavier operational systems, which is one of the largest challenges facing militaries. The technology development required to decarbonize these systems provides additional opportunities to reduce emissions in hard-to-abate civil sectors, leading to multiplicative benefits. 

Concluding his remarks, Minister Bausch expressed his hopes that, “the proposals made in this World Climate and Security Report will help us to further fuel and shape more concrete action towards climate neutrality in the defense sector,” a key step to achieving the long-term security of a global system increasingly destabilized by climate change. 

You can watch the full event recording here and read the Decarbonizing Defense report here.

RELEASE: Decarbonized Defense: Kicking off the World Climate and Security Report 2022

June 7, 2022 —  Today the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS Expert Group) launched a new report, Decarbonized Defense: The Need for Clean Military Power in the Age of Climate Change, the first in a series of papers comprising the third annual World Climate and Security Report. The paper warns that militaries must accelerate efforts toward net zero to achieve a win-win-win: minimize fossil fuel-related operational vulnerabilities, undermine petro-dictators like Vladimir Putin, and combat climate change.  

The report reveals that there are high operational costs of continued fossil fuel use by militaries, and recommends that security leaders across NATO and the EU seize opportunities to ensure that low carbon considerations and energy efficiency standards are key factors in new procurement processes, research and innovation. The authors note that the war in Ukraine is a turning point for sustainable change, and that ministries and departments of defense can lead broader technological change across society by creating enough demand signals to spur innovation and enable the private sector to bring low-carbon solutions to the market. 

Join Us for the Launch of the 2022 World Climate and Security Series

By Elsa Barron

Join the International Military Council on Climate Security’s Expert Group on June 7, 2022, at 5 PM CET/ 11 AM ET for the launch of the 2022 World Climate and Security Report Series (register here). The 2022 Series includes three components reflecting the priorities in the NATO Climate Change and Security Action Plan — risk assessment, mitigation challenges and opportunities, and climate adaptation strategies. Given the already existing and intensifying impacts of climate change, each component of the series is designed to equip policymakers to move from planning to action to address the consequent security threats.

Our virtual launch event (register here) will feature remarks from IMCCS leadership, the Honorable Sherri Goodman and General Tom Middendorp (Ret), as well as the Luxembourg Minister of Defense Francois Bausch and other special guests. We hope you can join us!

Register here

UPDATE 6/7/2022: Read the report here.

New Report: Scenarios-Based Analysis for the Levant: Adaptive Technologies for Regional Climate-Related Security Risks

Today, the Center for Climate and Security, the International Military Council on Climate Security Expert Group, and adelphi released a new scenarios-based report on the Levant, Adaptive Technologies for Regional Climate-Related Security Risks, as part of the Weathering Risk project. 

This scenario-based analysis explores four possible future climate security scenarios for the Levant, in order to anticipate future risks and identify priority policy areas. It looks particularly at how different degrees of technological availability and international cooperation could lead to different outcomes in the region.

To better anticipate and respond to future risks, we convened regional experts using a scenario analysis method. The experts identified the most important and most uncertain or difficult to predict drivers of climate security risks in the Levant. From those, two were selected: technological availability and international cooperation. The interaction between these drivers at their extremes produces four future scenarios for the region based on the expected physical climate change effects.

The process of developing and analyzing these four scenarios highlighted the importance of state policy, governance, and cooperation as variables shaping states’ capacity to cope with climate change.

While the exercise did not identify significant new entry points for addressing regional governance or cooperation deficits, it did reveal that even in states with poor or absent governance and low levels of cooperation, societies may find ways of coping with adverse climate impacts if the means to adapt are readily available.

Our scenarios suggest that making small-scale adaptive technologies widely available may offer a path to increasing climate resilience in societies suffering from low cooperation and poor or even predatory governance.

To read the full report, click here.

South Asia’s Scorching Heatwave: Another Window Into Our Climate-Insecure Planet

By Sarang Shidore

South Asia’s cruel heatwave in recent weeks has seen land temperatures reach 122 F (49 C) and air temperatures as high as 143 F (62 C) in India and Pakistan. A brutal April was preceded by a searing March, both setting records on the subcontinent for those months. The peak summer period in the region is in May and early June, so the early arrival of extreme temperatures was another unusual characteristic of this heatwave.

Do Not Underestimate the Links Between Climate Change and Conflict, Experts Warn

General Tom Middendorp (ret.), Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), is one of more than a dozen leaders in the fields of climate science, peacebuilding, and security to have endorsed a joint statement released on April 27th calling for the links between climate change and conflict to inform a broad spectrum of policy-making and programming.

The statement, initiated by the multilateral climate security analysis and foresight initiative Weathering Risk, urges decision-makers to consider the findings on climate change and conflict in the IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability published in February in their entirety. Following the report’s publication, some political actors over-simplified and downplayed these findings, implying that peacebuilding policy should not be concerned with climate change.

New Report: Climate Change, Security and Political Coherence in the South and East China Seas

By Rachel Fleishman

Which socio-political, technological, demographic, diplomatic, military, and economic drivers will shape the converging threats of climate change and national security in the South and East China Seas?  This is the motivating question for a new report, from the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), entitled Climate Change, Security and Political Coherence in the South and East China Seas: a Scenarios-based Assessment.

To address the question, the Center for Climate and Security convened a group of regional experts in science, politics, security and adjacent fields to tease out the cascading threats that climate change poses in the region.  This expert input informed four future scenarios for the countries bordering the South and East China Seas.

No Time for Half Measures: A Security Perspective on the New IPCC Report on Mitigation

By Sofie Bliemel and Brigitte Hugh

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III (WGIII) on Mitigation released its contribution to the Sixth Assessment Cycle (AR6) on April 4 after the longest approval plenary in the IPCC’s history. The top-line takeaway from the third and final report of AR6 is that global emissions must peak by 2025 if the world is to avoid global warming over 2°C this century. “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said IPCC WGIII co-chair Jim Skea, calling for immediate and deep emission reductions to avoid intensifying climate risks. 

An Interview with CS2P Co-Founder, Sofia Kabbej, on “Questions of Climate Security & Peace”

By Elsa Barron

The Climate Security & Peace Project (CS2P) is a team of “young researchers, professionals and students from diverse fields and backgrounds,” and aims to build knowledge on the links between climate and environmental challenges and threats to human security, peace, and international stability. CS2P has worked closely in collaboration with the French Institute of International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), a consortium member of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). Through a new initiative, CS2P created a three-part video series titled “Questions of Climate Security & Peace” with the support of NGO CliMates and the EU Commission. To learn more about this project and the three climate security case studies it addresses, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) asked CS2P co-founder Sofia Kabbej to answer a few questions on the project.

New IPCC Report Calls for Adapting Today to Ensure Tomorrow’s Climate Security

By Brigitte Hugh and Sofie Bliemel 

“The future depends on us, not the climate,” said Dr. Helen Adams from King’s College London, a lead author of the Working Group II (WGII) contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), published on February 28, 2022. In this article we discuss its implications for the climate-security nexus. 

The newest publication focuses on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabilities, building on the Working Group I report, released in August 2021, which explored the physical science of climate change. At the end of March 2022, the Working Group III installment of AR6, on mitigation, will be released. The report paints a grim picture of already irreversible climate threats, underscoring the importance of climate resilient development to reduce risks. “Taking action now” will determine societies’ vulnerability to climate hazards and resulting disasters and conflict.