Climate change is rapidly changing the Arctic at the same time that security tensions are heightened across the region. How will future climate impacts affect the security environment, operations, and infrastructure of the region? How do Arctic nations understand the changing risk landscape? How can Arctic nations move forward on a “low tension, high effort” agenda in the climate era?
This panel will feature a high-level discussion on the intersection of climate change and security in the Arctic, followed by a dialogue on opportunities to manage future security risks in the region. Panelists will build on the findings and recommendations of two new reports from CCS and its partners: Climate Change and Security in the Arctic and A Climate Security Plan for Canada.
Washington, D.C., February 16, 2021 — The Center for Climate and Security, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, released a new report today entitled “A Climate Security Plan for Canada.” This report looks at the challenges of climate change through the frames of Canada’s existing security and climate strategies, recommending that Canada develop a comprehensive plan, coordinated within its federal agencies, to proactively address the security threats and risks posed by climate change.
“Unlike the United States, Canada already has a mature climate strategy, but security threats and responses to those threats can be better integrated into that strategy,” said John Conger, Director of the Center for Climate and Security and a co-author of the report. “And while its security strategy recognizes climate change issues, those threats can be addressed in a more holistic way. The two strategies need to be knitted together to create a coherent climate security strategy.”
“Canada is keenly aware of how climate change is increasing security threats in the Arctic, and has focused its national security establishment – and all of its Arctic policies – on addressing those threats. Climate change will affect Canadian security interests across the board, domestically and internationally, from more disasters to instability and conflict risk. This plan sets out how the Government of Canada can meet these threats,” said Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs at the Center for Climate and Security and a co-author of the report.
“How is Canada preparing to address the environmental impacts on security?” That was the question debated in a packed auditorium at the Canadian Forces College (CFC) on 12 February, 2020. The “Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear” Symposium hosted by the Canadian Forces College (Toronto, Canada) was organized by the College’s Department of Innovative Studies and aimed to sensitize participating students, both Canadian and international (to include audiences tuning in from the United Nations, and the Baltic Defence College) on the security implications of climate change. The expert opinions provided by both Canadian and American national security advisors and analysts, to include Center for Climate and Security Fellows Captain Steve Brock and Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett (both US Navy, retired), helped to frame, and imbue an enhanced understanding of, how Canada’s national and human security imperatives fit into the climate change discourse.
In a new report released by the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Climate Change Risks and Adaptation Potential (with the refreshingly prosaic title “Canada’s Top Climate Change Risks,”) the authors highlight twelve major climate change risks affecting Canada. While all twelve of the identified risks have a relationship with Canada’s national security in one form or another, two stand out in that context: Geopolitical Dynamics and Physical Infrastructure. From Page 11 of the report:
Geopolitical Dynamics: Risks related to geopolitical dynamics affecting Canada, including increased international migration and associated political, social, and economic stresses; increasing political and social conflict over climate-affected resources; heightened geopolitical tensions over Arctic sovereignty and resources; and increasing need for humanitarian assistance and foreign aid due to climate-related crises.
Physical Infrastructure: Risks to physical infrastructure in Canada (e.g., homes, buildings, roads, bridges), including damage from extreme weather events such as heavy precipitation, high winds, and flooding; increased probability of power outages and grid failures; and an increasing risk of cascading infrastructure failures.