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. 

IMCCS and NATO at the Munich Security Conference on the Eve of Conflict: Addressing Catastrophic Risks

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MSC-2022_3-1024x594.jpeg
MSC, Munich Security Conference, Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Fürstensalon. Source: Elsa Barron, International Military Council on Climate and Security, Feb 18, 2022.

By Elsa Barron

The threat of a likely Russian invasion of Ukraine hung over the recent 2022 Munich Security Conference, held from February 18-20. Events and discussions regarding NATO’s role in responding to this immediate geopolitical, and potential humanitarian, crisis were many. Devastatingly, these conversations that were at the time hypothetical are now coming to pass.

Other cross-cutting crises, and NATO’s role in addressing them, were also discussed in depth – including the security risks of a changing climate. In that context, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) was honored to partner with NATO to host an event titled: “An Adaptation Battle Plan: Implementing Climate Security Action.” Speakers included The Honorable Anita Anand, Canadian Minister of National Defense, The Honorable Baiba Braže, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defense of the Netherlands (Ret) and Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), and The Honorable David van Weel, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.

Is it Time to “Climatize” the UN Security Council?

By Mark Nevitt 

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council failed to pass a draft resolution that would have defined climate change as a “threat to peace” within Article 39 of the UN Charter. Under international law, this critical threat to peace determination acts as a key that opens the door to supplemental legal authorities. But this resolution, co-sponsored by Ireland and Niger, was vetoed by Russia, one of the Council’s five permanent members (“P5”).  By defining climate change as a threat to the peace, the Council could have sent an important signal that climate change is squarely within its ambit while setting the stage for follow-on action.

Deepening UN Action on Climate Security

As the high-level meetings of the 76th UN General Assembly kick off this week, climate change is front and center. Secretary-General Guterres led with a strong call to action, saying “The world must wake up,” to the, “the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes.” On Thursday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) prepares to debate climate security again. Ahead of the meeting, it’s useful to examine how the UN can drive action to match the ambition of past verbal commitments. How can it implement climate security practices to address the increasing risks to peace posed by rising temperatures? The 2021 World Climate and Security Report, released in June of this year, has some answers to this question, which we have excerpted below: 

The UN system has long led the global effort on negotiated reductions in national emissions. With key nations and other multilateral institutions unable or unwilling to act, the UN process has persevered in keeping negotiated climate action on the global agenda. With political will now building within its most powerful members, the UN-led international system must seize the initiative to address all aspects of climate change drawing on the core tenets of its founding principles: peace, security, sovereignty, and human rights. It must adapt and update treaties and protocols that govern the global commons and shared environmental resources. 

There are important steps all UN member states can take within their regional blocks and in the General Assembly to advocate for climate security integration into UN institutions and processes. These longer-term actions will require sustained commitment and coalition-building to enact. Broad-based support will be especially critical in the UN General Assembly’s Fifth Committee which has authority over budget and management issues. These steps include: 

  • The official integration of climate security considerations into each UN mission’s semi-annual report to the Secretary General and the UNSC. Each Force Commander could also be tasked with including climate security considerations in their annual briefings. 
  • The establishment of multiple regional Climate Security Crisis Watch Centers which feed into a UN-wide Climate Security Crisis Watch Center. Such centers would have the triple benefits of: cultivating a shared data driven community; giving regional organizations a role in the success of a global climate security data network; and connecting these organizations through their common mission.208 
  • With a UNSC or UN General Assembly climate and security mandate, the Secretary General could exercise his authority to appoint a Special Representative of the Secretary General for Climate Security as part of the Special Advisors, Representatives and Envoys construct. In the absence of a UN climate and security mandate, like-minded member states should encourage the Secretary General to appoint a Personal Representative for Climate Security. 
  •  Further building out an institutional structure through the creation of an office for climate and security within the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs at the Assistant Secretary General-level, a division for climate and security within the Department of Peace Operations, and a climate security unit within the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 
  • Any climate and security organizational entity established should work closely with the Secretary General’s Special Advisor for Climate Action, currently dual-hatted as the Assistant Secretary General for the UN Climate Action Team. 

Incorporating climate security successfully will require the same level of discipline and rigor as are afforded other critical security issues within the UN system, including full integration into training, education, situational assessments, planning and operations. Institutionalizing analysis and action on climate security risks and opportunities throughout the UN will help the organization meet its mission to maintain international peace and security.

“Missing in Action”: Former Australian security leaders highlight climate-related security threats; call for rapid decarbonisation

A new report released yesterday by the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group calls on the Australian Government to “prevent devastating climate impacts by mobilising all resources necessary to reach zero emissions as fast as possible,” starting with a comprehensive Whole-of-Nation Climate and Security Risk Assessment.

Missing in Action: Responding to Australia’s climate & security failure, lays out a Climate-Security Risk Action Plan for Australia based on four themes: demonstrating leadership, assessing climate risks, coordination and cooperation across government, and acting and investing with urgency.

The impacts of climate change on security have been well documented: climate-fueled water and food insecurity contributed to armed conflicts in Syria, the Maghreb and the Sahel. The Arab Spring occurred after the spot price for wheat tripled due to reduced wheat supply in Russia and China following extreme climate events. Recent commentary has also highlighted climate-related food and water issues in Afghanistan that have contributed to insecurity in the region over recent decades.

Deepening IMCCS Partnerships Down Under

The International Military Council on Climate and Security is pleased to welcome the Australian Security Policy Institute’s Climate and Security Policy Centre as an institutional partner. Led by Dr. Robert Glasser, the objectives of the ASPI Climate and Security Policy Centre include: evaluating the impact climate change will have on security in the Indo-Pacific region; developing practical, evidence-based policy recommendations and interventions to reduce climate change risks; increasing Australian and regional expertise, understanding and public awareness of the links between climate change and national security, and identifying the implications of these links for key Australian government stakeholders. 

New Climate Security Report has Implications for NATO and COP26

By Danice Ball and Lily Feldman

Earlier this month, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released the World Climate and Security Report (WCSR) 2021, the second in an ongoing series of annual reports. The report dives into climate security risk assessments for a few hotspot regions, including Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and also provides concrete tools to help policymakers address the growing unprecedented threats. A unique inclusion in this year’s report is a new Climate Security Risk Matrix and Methodology, which allows for evaluation of comparative climate risk among countries. In addition, the report features a Climate Security Risk Perception Survey, aggregating forecasts of climate risks from leading climate security experts in the world. These experts find climate security to be among the most pressing issues the world faces now, and a priority for future planning efforts. Between the Risk Matrix, the Survey, climate security case studies, and policy recommendations, the IMCCS Expert Group believes that policymakers will find the information needed to inform next steps in both preparing for and preventing climate security risks.