In a new Op-ed in Politico, General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defence of the Netherlands (Ret), and current Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (of which the Center for Climate and Security serves as Secretariat), puts a twist on Georges Clemenceau’s famous saying that “war is too important to be left to the generals,” with “don’t leave climate to the environment ministers.” In it, he encourages the European Commission’s President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen (who will take office on November 1), to continue her track record of taking climate security risks seriously during her tenure. To explain, he states:
Climate change will affect every aspect of our lives and every portfolio of every government — from economic performance to managing borders. The issue has to be the top item on every ministerial brief — including, importantly, those responsible for defense and security.
Climate change is not just an environmental problem. It is an existential challenge. To fight it also means dealing with its secondary effects — displacement, conflict and violence — and making it a focus of our security policy.
General Middendorp has become an international leader on climate and security. Hopefully his voice will help spur security, defense and foreign affairs leaders across the world to step up the scale and urgency of their response to the rising security consequences of a changing climate.
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