The Center for Climate & Security

Why The Intelligence Community Needs a Climate Change Task Force

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This is a cross-posted excerpt from The Cipher Brief

By Kristin Wood and Erin Sikorsky

EXPERT PERSPECTIVE — President Biden’s 27 January Executive Order (EO) on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad demonstrates a strong commitment to preparing the United States for addressing the climate crisis. It assigns experienced climate experts into powerful new roles and issues extensive orders for a whole-of-government response. This article analyzes the Intelligence Community aspects of the EO.

For national security agencies, the EO orders agencies to assess within 90 days:

—  Climate impacts relevant to broad agency strategies in particular countries or regions;

—  Climate impacts on their agency-managed infrastructure abroad (e.g., embassies, military installations), without prejudice to existing requirements regarding assessment of such infrastructure;

—  How the agency intends to manage such impacts or incorporate risk mitigation into its installation master plans; and

—   How the agency’s international work, including partner engagement, can contribute to addressing the climate crisis.

Read the rest of the article at The Cipher Brief.

Watch: The Center for Climate and Security on BBC World News

Climate security has featured prominently on the world stage in recent weeks–first at the Munich Security Conference on the day the United States officially rejoined the Paris Agreement and then at the UNSC high-level meeting on climate security chaired by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Center for Climate and Security’s Deputy Director, Erin Sikorsky, joined the BBC World News two times to put these developments in context, and discuss some parts of the world where the climate-security nexus is particularly acute. You can watch her interviews here:

BBC World News – February 19, 2021
BBC World News – February 23, 2021

Why Water Conflict is Rising, Especially on the Local Level

By Peter Schwartzstein

That future wars will be fought over water, rather than oil, has become something of a truism, particularly with regard to the Middle East. It’s also one that most water experts have refuted time and time and time again. But while this preference for cooperation over conflict may (and emphasis on may) remain true of interstate disputes, this blanket aversion to the ‘water wars’ narrative fails to account for the rash of other water-related hostilities that are erupting across many of the world’s drylands. As neither full-on warfare nor issues that necessarily resonate beyond specific, sometimes isolated areas, these ‘grey zone’ clashes don’t seem to be fully registering in the broader discussion of water conflicts. In failing to adequately account for the volume of localized violence, the world is probably chronically underestimating the extent to which water insecurity is already contributing to conflict.

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Climate Security at the UNSC: Opportunities for US Action in March

Caitlin Werrell, Co-Founder and President of the Center for Climate and Security, presents the Responsibility to Prepare framework to the UN Security Council – Dec 15, 2017

By Erin Sikorsky, Steve Brock, Francesco Femia, Rachel Fleishman, and Caitlin Werrell

“No one country can solve the climate crisis on its own. It’s exactly the kind of challenge the United Nations was created to solve.” – U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry, UNSC High Level Meeting on Climate Security

On February 23, the UK capped off its February Presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC) by hosting a high-level meeting on climate security, chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At the meeting, Johnson noted, “it is absolutely clear that climate change is a threat to our collective security and the security of our nations….climate change is a geopolitical issue every bit as much as it is an environmental one. And if this Council is going to succeed in maintaining peace and security worldwide then it’s got to galvanise the whole range of UN agencies and organisations into a swift and effective response.” 

What might such a swift and effective response look like? As the United States assumes the UNSC Presidency in March, it has an opportunity to turn the speeches at the UK-led meeting into lasting action. The Presidency will be Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s first chance to advance President Biden’s repeated pledges to put climate change at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Possible activities the US could consider, in support of its broader whole-of-government strategy as outlined in the Executive Order on the climate crisis, are the following: 

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