Stockholm, October 23, 2019 – Climate change poses serious challenges to current and future peacebuilding missions, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which studies the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). Climate change amplifies existing challenges and strengthens radical groups. At the same time, climate change forces missions to think out of the box with UNSOM proving to be an encouraging example.
In a recent speech to the European Parliament, General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defence of the Netherlands (Ret), and Chair of the IMCCS, made a bold case for significant preventive and preparatory action on climate change. First, highlighting the threat, he noted:
This article was first published by the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations.
INTRODUCTION: The public meeting is organised by the Netherlands Atlantic Youth and study association BASIS. Speakers are Clingendael’s Senior Associate Fellow Tom Middendorp and ICCT’s Senior Research Fellow Liesbeth van der Heide. Register here.
Climate change is increasingly becoming a security issue
Drought, degradation and severe floods: climate change is increasingly becoming a security issue. The recent instabilities in the Sahel region, such as the uprisings in Mali and Nigeria and the civil war in Sudan, indicate a connection between climate change and security.
A quick read of daily headlines makes it increasingly clear that current international governance structures are not fully prepared for the security risks of a changing climate. In response to these mounting risks, the Center for Climate and Security – an IMCCS founding partner – is releasing a report calling for a framework for using our unprecedented foresight capabilities to anticipate and prevent the unprecedented security risks of climate change. Titled The Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent (R2P2): A Climate Security Governance Framework for the 21st Century, authors Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia identify three critical gaps in the international governance of climate security risks that have stalled preparedness and prevention. The report also offers three concrete proposals for filling those gaps to make sure the world avoids the worst of these risks on the horizon. Click here for the full report, and see below for the Executive Summary.
General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS, was recently interviewed for an article in the Dutch publication NRC. In it, he highlights the intersection of climate change and security, stating: “Millions of people are or will be affected.” The article discusses the launch of the IMCCS in February 2019, noting that the group develops knowledge on the subject (and will in the future through the forthcoming World Climate and Security report), which is then shared with defense ministries and governments worldwide. Read the article here (it’s in Dutch).
By Marc Kodack
A recent article published in The Telegraph summarizes the text of a prepared speech by Australia’s Defence Force Chief, General Angus Campbell, which was described as “signed off by all of Defence, including the Chief of the Defence Force, as their official views… on climate change as a national security threat.” The speech was given at an invitation-only event in Australia; thus, it is unclear if the text was presented only as written. In the speech, a reference is made to Australia sending more military personnel to assist with climate-related disasters, both domestic and international, than it had at any one time in Afghanistan to conduct military operations. The speech states that Australia is in “the most natural disaster-prone region in the world” and that “climate change is predicted to make disasters more extreme and more common.” It also warns that the Federal Government’s actions on climate change could “affect relationships with Pacific island nations, who have repeatedly called on Australia to do more to reduce carbon emissions.” In that context, it warns of China filling the gap in leadership left by Australian policy, stating:
According to Kenya’s NTV News, during a closing ceremony after a joint exercise between the Kenyan and Jordanian armed forces, Kenya’s Defense Cabinet Secretary, Raychelle Awour Omamo, identified climate change, environmental degradation and health security as “the major security threats emerging in Kenya today.” Cabinet Secretary Omamo stated: “These nontraditional security challenges continue to threaten the state and international peace.”
In yesterday’s episode of U.S. National Public Radio’s On Point, Meghna Chakrabarti interviewed journalist Emily Atkin and Francesco Femia, Manager and Senior Advisor of the IMCCS and Co-Founder of the Center for Climate and Security, to discuss the implications of climate change for global instability and conflict. The show built upon an article in the New Republic by Emily Atkin, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, exploring a catastrophic 2100 climate scenario. Francesco touched on a number of topics, including climate risks to militaries and the broader geostrategic environment. Listen to the On Point episode here. The segment with Francesco Femia starts at 25:05, but the full show is worth a listen.
In an article published today by the IPI Global Observatory, Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia, Managers and Senior Advisors to the IMCCS, and Co-Founders of the Center for Climate and Security, highlight the “Responsibility to Prepare” principle regarding climate change, which rests on the idea that unprecedented climate change risks coupled with society’s foresight about those risks, creates clear responsibility for preventive and preparatory actions that are commensurate to the risk. The article is part of a series that the IPI Global Observatory is publishing in advance of Climate Week in New York (watch this space for more). Click here for the full article.
By Marc Kodack
In an article published today, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the British General Staff, said the current generation of tactical vehicles may be the last to be powered by fossil fuels. Benefits to ending this dependence on fossil fuels would be logistical, e.g. reduce the logical tail risk, and put the British Army on “the right side of the environmental argument.” He called on British industry to develop the next generation of vehicles that are simultaneously “battle winning but also environmentally sustainable.” Doing so would also assist in influencing the career decisions of future recruits who may consider “prospective employer’s environmental credentials.”