The Center for Climate & Security

Five Key Points from the 2016 World Risk Report


New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: A Texas Army National Guard deposits a bag of sand and gravel on-target

This is a cross-post from The United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security

Every year the World Risk Report (WRR) and its World Risk Index (WRI) analyze the exposure and vulnerability to natural hazards of over 170 countries, in order to assess the drivers and hotspots of disaster risk. UNU-EHS publishes the report jointly with Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart. (more…)

Drones for Climate and Security


A UN Unmanned/Unarmed Aerial Vehicles (UAV)  at Goma airport for UN Peacekeeping Operations MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti

By Sinead O’Sullivan, Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

In their initial conception, drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), were used exclusively in the context of military missions – providing reconnaissance, intelligence and surveillance in hostile environments unsafe for human involvement, with a new weapons capability. While drones are still popularly perceived in their military context, their uses have spread far beyond those applications. Drones are expanding rapidly in the commercial side of the aerospace industry, and significant technology transfer is moving from the drones’ military beginnings and into the hands of the civilian consumer.

One space where drones straddle military and civilian applications is in regards to a changing climate and the security consequences that follow. (more…)

A Storm Without Rain: Yemen, Water, Climate Change, and Conflict


Water reservoir in Yemen, by Mufaddalqn

By Collin Douglas, Center for Climate & Security Research Fellow

The civil war in Yemen has old origins, but the recent violence can be traced back to the Arab Spring of 2011, and protests in Yemen over unemployment, corruption, and general dissatisfaction with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[i]  On the surface, the civil war seems to be a politically-motivated competition for power among many actors with varying motives. However, underneath the obvious political and societal tensions, there lies a more basic tension: water. (more…)

Six Conflict Prevention Takeaways from New Climate and Conflict Research


Syrian refugee center on the Turkish border (3 August 2012)

A new study was released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists by a group of researchers at the Potsdam Institute titled, Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries. This is the latest in a growing body of research looking at the links between climate change and conflict.

The authors’ main finding is this:

We find evidence in global datasets that risk of armed-conflict outbreak is enhanced by climate-related disaster occurrence in ethnically fractionalized countries. Although we find no indications that environmental disasters directly trigger armed conflicts, our results imply that disasters might act as a threat multiplier in several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions.


CIA Director on the Geopolitical Risks of Climate Geoengineering

CIA_floor_sealCIA Director John Brennan recently spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations event. His remarks covered a broad range of near and long term national security risks, including the benefits and costs of geoengineering for combating climate change (transcript and video below). It is not surprising that geoengineering solutions to climate change (which can be conducted unilaterally by states and non-state actors with international consequences), are an area of interest for the CIA director. As Brennan points out, there is a lack of “global norms and standards” for addressing the geopolitical implications of developing this technology, and that’s not a tenable situation. It’s a topic many shy away from, but ignoring it won’t make it go away.  (more…)

Do We Need a New Climate Risk Regime?

Photo: UN Photo/Evan SchneiderBy Neil Bhatiya, Climate and Diplomacy Fellow

With the completion of the Paris Agreement in December of last year, the international community fashioned a universal accord on climate change. As a new E3G Report, United We Stand: Reforming the United Nations to Reduce Climate Risk, makes clear, however, Paris  is only one part of the equation. The problem, which this report tries to address, is that the international system’s ability to deal with climate risk – the impacts from climate change that are already occurring – is fragmentary and ad hoc. (more…)

General Keys: The military thinks climate change is serious

Ron KeysGeneral Ron Keys, United States Air Force (ret), in his capacity as Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security and Chairman of the CNA Advisory Board, recently opened up the annual Common Good Forum with an excellent speech titled “Planning for Disaster – Climate Change and National Security.” In the speech, General Keys emphasized that the U.S. military doesn’t play politics with climate change and energy security, because it doesn’t have that luxury. The U.S. military looks at both climate change and energy security through the lens of how they effect its capacity to do its job as a war-fighter and humanitarian responder. A few key passages from the General: (more…)

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