In an article published on Saturday, NBC News‘ Linda Givetash covered the growing trend of militaries taking concrete steps to address the threat of climate change, including efforts by NATO militaries to enhance energy efficiency in the context of the NATO mission. As Givetash notes, “military officials from 29 countries — including the United States — will test whether energy efficient equipment and hybrid diesel-solar power systems can be easily integrated into their operations in Poland this June.”

For the piece, Givetash highlighted the “newly established International Military Council on Climate and Security“, noting that the IMCCS “aims to bring the impact of climate change on natural disasters and conflicts to the forefront of military strategy.” Givetash spoke with both IMCCS Secretary General Sherri Goodman, and IMCCS Chair General Tom Middendorp. From the article:

Hon. Sherri Goodman: “Militaries are great planning organizations, we need to utilize that great planning capability to get further ahead of the climate threat than we have…”

General Tom Middendorp: “For the military, it’s very important to understand the root causes of a conflict and not deal with the symptoms alone,” he said. “The more that you can address the [root causes], the less you have to fight over it, and it saves lives.”

Click here for the full piece.

General Middendorp on the Climate and Security Podcast

In the latest episode of The Climate and Security Podcast, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty talks to General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands. General Middendorp talks about being a commander in South Afghanistan, and how even after driving out the Taliban in one case, conflict persisted due to disputes over the division of water. He describes firsthand experiences from across twenty missions on how climate change and human impacts can amplify war and negate best efforts at peacekeeping. He discusses the importance of cooperation across aid workers, diplomats, policymakers, military coalitions and other stakeholders to pursue stability at a global scale. Tom emphasizes the role defence communities can play in terms of offering opportunities to visionaries to develop ideas such as an innovation that extracts water out of dry, desert air.  Hear this unique perspective – from the former highest-ranking military officer in the Dutch Armed forces – on overcoming the challenges at the nexus of climate and security.

The Center for Climate and Security’s video podcast takes climate change out of its environmental box, and brings it to the big kid’s table of national and international security. Featuring a series of exclusive dialogues with leading security, military and foreign affairs experts, the podcast explores our responsibility to prepare for a rapidly-changing world.

Subscribe to the Center for Climate and Security’s YouTube channel to never miss an episode! Or listen to the audio version on iTunes or Stitcher, and subscribe now to get real-time updates. If you’re one of those already subscribed on iTunes, we always welcome your ratings and reviews, as this helps us get the podcast out there to more listeners!

IMCCS in the News

The announcement of the creation of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) at the Hague on February 19 received international news coverage. Below are four noteworthy articles following the announcement.

U.S. Senate Letter to the President Mentions IMCCS

On February 27th, 14 U.S. Senators delivered a letter to the U.S. President regarding the planned creation of a climate science review panel by the National Security Council. In the letter, the Senators identified the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) as evidence of increasing concerns about climate change from the international security community, stating “…on the very same day the original draft executive order establishing the Presidential Climate Security Committee came to light, senior military leaders from around the world formed the International Military Council on Climate and Security, a network focused on the security impacts of climate change.”

Click here to read the full letter.

Release: International Military Council on Climate and Security Announced at The Hague

The Hague, Netherlands, 19 February 2019 — At the Planetary Security Conference, a meeting of hundreds of security and foreign policy experts and practitioners, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and its partners the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)/ the Planetary Security Initiative, the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS),  and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) announced the creation of a new International Military Council on Climate and Security, or IMCCS. The IMCCS will be a “standing” umbrella network of senior military leaders from across the globe that will meet regularly, produce an annual World Climate and Security Report, and drive communications and policy in support of actions on the security implications of a changing climate – at national, regional and international levels. As it expands, the IMCCS will welcome new members and institutional affiliates from across the globe. The Center for Climate and Security, a policy institute of the Council on Strategic Risks with a team and advisory board of senior military and security experts, will serve as the Secretariat of the IMCCS.

Quotes from the IMCCS leadership:

“Climate change is a threat multiplier, making existing threats to security worse, and that means militaries are going to be on the front lines of combating climate risks and building resilience. Many of the world’s military leaders recognize that climate change is a core security concern, not only an environmental matter, and a fundamental strategic consideration of our time.  This network will bring military voices to the international security and climate discussion in a meaningful way, and advance action commensurate to the threat.” – Honorable Sherri Goodman, Secretary General of the IMCCS, Senior Strategist at the Center for Climate and Security, and former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense

“Climate change fuels the roots of conflict around the globe and poses a direct threat to populations and installations in coastal areas and small islands. It should therefore be taken very seriously as a major security issue that needs to be addressed. The military can and should be part of the solution when dealing with climate change. The IMCCS can help create synergy in the international military community by exchanging best practices, coordinating efforts and cooperating on new initiatives.” – General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands

“It is fitting that here in the Hague at a planetary security gathering an international military initiative on climate security takes its first step.  Less than 20 years ago, renowned Dutch atmospheric scientist and Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen coined “Anthropocene,” an idea pointing to both the cause and solution of the challenge before us.  It is time for a new epoch in strategic thought and defense planning that mobilizes and deploys our tremendous collective wherewithal towards a “Security Smart Anthropocene” – Captain Steve Brock, USN (Ret), Chief of Staff to the Secretary General and Executive Director, IMCCS; Senior Advisor to the Center for Climate and Security and the Council on Strategic Risks

“In Europe, some countries have started integrating climate change into military strategy and operations, but the majority is lagging behind. At the same time, climate-related water, energy and food insecurity are on the rise in Europe’s neighborhood, and this needs to be included in risk analysis, foresight, preparations for missions and during military operations. European climate targets also demand that the military step up its contribution to reducing the carbon footprint, which is a blessing since it contributes to a better geopolitical energy security position, lowers the energy costs of operations and reduces risks associated with securing energy supply lines.” – Louise van Schaik, Senior Member of the IMCCS Executive Committee and Head of the Clingendael International Sustainability Centre

“The gradual integration of climate change into the field of defence and security responds to the urgent and perpetual need to understand the strategic environment accurately. Assess new risks and threats, anticipate the evolution of armed forces missions, adapt our doctrines, capabilities and carbon footprint; IMCCS will make a valuable contribution to these debates.” – Bastien Alex, Senior Member of the IMCCS Executive Committee and Head of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs’ Climate, Energy and Security program

“There is a need for better awareness and understanding of the threats and required strategic capabilities for climate security. Interaction between stakeholders should be supported and coordination is required.” – Michel Rademaker, Senior Member of the IMCCS Executive Committee and Deputy Director of the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies

Why: Over the last decade, a growing number of militaries and national security communities have become increasingly concerned about a changing climate – including about the very real risks it poses to global stability, conflict and their own military missions – and have begun to organize themselves within their respective countries. The IMCCS will harness that energy into an international institution devoted to addressing the very real and urgent concerns militaries have about a changing climate.

What’s New: The IMCCS will represent a major scaling-up of the international climate and military community. Building from the successes of climate and security networks such as the Climate and Security Advisory Group, the CNA Military Advisory Board, the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change, the Planetary Security Initiative, the CCS Advisory Board and the Climate and Security Working Group-International, the IMCCS will represent the largest, most diverse, and most active international military network on climate change.

How: The core functions of the IMCCS will be three-fold:

  • Analysis and Policy Development: The IMCCS will publish annual reports on the global security implications of climate change, including its implications for militaries. This will include an annual World Climate and Security Report
  • Communications: IMCCS members will communicate during and after key global events, including meetings of important regional and international security institutions.
  • Coordination: The IMCCS will coordinate and super-charge existing climate and security networks to help maximize the effectiveness and reach of the climate-military community.

When: The IMCCS will hold a formal launch event in 2019 (date to be confirmed).

Video: See a video of the announcement here.

Francesco Femia, The Center for Climate and Security, ffemia at climateandsecurity dot org