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IPCC Report Climate Security Takeaways: It’s All About The Risk

Ganges_River_Delta,_Bangladesh,_IndiaThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released findings from Working Group II of its 5th Assessment Report yesterday. The report, titled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” addresses observed and projected impacts of climate change on human systems, and what people are doing to adapt. Both the summary for policy-makers and the full report are worth reading in full. At first glance, here are some key takeaways from the security perspective:

  • The world is currently ill-prepared for climate change risks.
  • A risk management approach to climate change is key.
  • Climate change is already influencing water and food security – this is not just a “future threat.”
  • There is strong evidence that human security will be “progressively” threatened by climate change.
  • There is very high confidence that “All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change, including food access, utilization, and price stability” (pg 18, Summary for Policymakers). For more see here.
  • Climate change can increase the likelihood of conflict “by amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks (pg 20, Summary for Policymakers).” See Chapter 12 of the report on “Human Security” for more on climate change, peace and conflict, as well as a PBS interview with Prof. Geoff Dabelko, a lead author for the chapter.
  • Evidence that “Climate change over the 21st century is projected to increase displacement of people” (pg 20, Summary for Policymakers). Here’s more on climate change and mobility.
  • Evidence that “The impacts of climate change on the critical infrastructure and territorial integrity of many states are expected to influence national security policies” (pg 20, Summary for Policymakers).
  • Average sea level rise is proceeding at a faster pace than predicted in the last assessment report, and this is already having an impact on human security (eg. the Philippines).
  • Important not to focus solely on the “averages” – abrupt changes, extremes and tipping points can have catastrophic impacts (and previously low probability events, which happen all the time, will become more frequent). See “The Next Black Swan: Rapid Changes in Context,” by Mehmet Burk for more.

1 Comment

  1. […] 3. The world will become less stable –> A dwindling food supply coupled with an increase in natural disasters will exacerbate tensions in already-tense areas “by amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks,” the report says. This could mean more or worse regional conflicts and civil wars, like what has unfolded in recent years in drought-stricken Syria, with national security implications for the US. (For more on those risks, take a look at the Center for Climate and Security’s blog.) […]

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