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European Attention to the Security Implications of Climate Change

050107-N-9293K-336There has been some notable attention to the security implications of climate change in the European Union recently.

On June 24, the Council of the European Union (aka the Council), which consists of national ministers of the EU member states, released its “Council conclusions on EU Climate Diplomacy.” The document includes quite significant attention to the security implications of climate change, consistent with that emphasis in the most recent European Security Strategy (from back in 2003), and the follow-on 2008 “Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy.” Below are some notable selections form the document:

“Climate change is a decisive global challenge which, if not urgently managed, will put at risk not only the environment but also world economic prosperity, development and, more broadly, stability and security.”

“Addressing the risk-multiplying threats of a changing climate, including potential conflict and instability, related to reliable access to food, water and energy, requires effective foreign policy responses at the global and EU level, as recognised in the European Security Strategy.”

“The Council welcomes the continued activities to build awareness and capacities to tackle the strategic and security dimensions of climate change, including at the level of the UN Security Council, and takes note of the increasing engagement of Member States and partner countries in those efforts.”

“Tackling climate change urgently, through mitigation and adaptation measures, is not only an environmental imperative but also, fundamentally, a necessary condition for peace and security,development and prosperity.”

Secondly, a report produced by the UK Ministry of Defense this year assesses the possibility of continuing energy price increases (tied to growing demand for energy in South Asia), and the effect climate change will likely have on those prices, and the possible economic and social unrest that could result. The report identifies myriad climate-related challenges in South Asia, including sea level rise, seasonal flooding and heat waves, stronger storms, and potentially devastating irregularities in monsoon rain patterns, which could lead to agricultural disruption and a wider range for certain diseases.

The projections on water security – which are obviously connected to climatic shifts – are quite worrying, with the report authors drawing some very definitive conclusions about the high likelihood of significant water insecurity (“too much or too little”) and its attendant impacts.

The full report can be accessed here.

Thirdly, the United Kingdom’s Climate and Energy Security Envoy, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, recently emphasized the security dimensions of a changing climate, stating:

“Just because it is happening 2,000 miles away does not mean it is not going to affect the UK in a globalised world, whether it is because food prices go up, or because increased instability in an area – perhaps around the Middle East or elsewhere – causes instability in fuel prices,” Morisetti said.

The full article is here.

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