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Report: The Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent – A New Climate Security Governance Framework

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 Middendorp and the IMCCS in the News

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).

Australia’s Defence Chief: Climate Change a National Security Threat

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:

Kenyan Defense Cabinet Secretary: Climate Change a Threat to Security

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.”

U.S. National Public Radio on Climate and Security Scenarios

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.

Werrell and Femia: A Responsibility to Prepare for Climate Change

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.

General Carleton-Smith: British Army Should Develop Non-Fossil Fuel Dependent Vehicles

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.”

Gen. Middendorp and Bergema: How Climate Change Fuels Violent Extremism

In an article published today on the anniversary of 9/11 by the IPI Global Observatory, General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands, and Reinier Bergema of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, highlight the links between climate change, water insecurity, and violent extremism – particularly in “Western, Central, and Eastern Africa, and several countries in the Middle East.” The article is part of an article 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.

Goodman on TRT World: Preventing and Preparing for Devastating Storms

Sherri Goodman, Secretary General of the IMCCS and Senior Strategist with the Center for Climate and Security, recently spoke to TRT World about the effect of climate change on devastating storms such as Hurricane Dorian. She spoke about the the need to both prevent a future of more frequent and intense storms by reducing the scale and scope of climate change, and preparing for these changes through investments in climate resilience. Prevention and preparation will be key to saving more lives in the future, building resilient communities, and bolstering security. Watch the full interview here:

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis: Don’t Get Caught “Flat-Footed” by Climate Change

In a September 5th interview with Andrea Mitchell, former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke about the importance of addressing the security threat of climate change, much as he did while he was Secretary of Defense from 2017-2019. In particular, he addressed skeptical audiences, stating: “why wouldn’t we take out an insurance policy and do prudent steps to make certain the generation that’s coming up is not going to be caught flat-footed by this?” Here’s the clip: