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A Climate Security Plan for Canada

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A Climate Security Plan for Canada: How the Government of Canada Can Combat the Security Risks of Climate Change

Washington, D.C., February 16, 2021 — The Center for Climate and Security released a new report today entitled “A Climate Security Plan for Canada.” This report looks at the challenges of climate change through the frames of Canada’s existing security and climate strategies, recommending that Canada develop a comprehensive plan, coordinated within its federal agencies, to proactively address the security threats and risks posed by climate change.

“Unlike the United States, Canada already has a mature climate strategy, but security threats and responses to those threats can be better integrated into that strategy,” said John Conger, Director of the Center for Climate and Security and a co-author of the report.  “And while its security strategy recognizes climate change issues, those threats can be addressed in a more holistic way.  The two strategies need to be knitted together to create a coherent climate security strategy.”

“Canada is keenly aware of how climate change is increasing security threats in the Arctic, and has focused its national security establishment – and all of its Arctic policies – on addressing those threats. Climate change will affect Canadian security interests across the board, domestically and internationally, from more disasters to instability and conflict risk. This plan sets out how the Government of Canada can meet these threats,” said Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs at the Center for Climate and Security and a co-author of the report.

The report, supported by the Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) program of Canada’s Department of National Defence, looks at Canada’s climate security threats through the framing of its national security strategy – Strong, Secure, Engaged.  That strategy describes a vision of being Strong at Home, Secure in North America and Engaged in the World.  Climate change imposes threats to each of those pillars:

  • Strong at Home: Climate change poses challenges to the safety and security of its people and to its military’s ability to defend them. Arctic changes are particularly acute.  Increasing natural disasters such as floods and wildfires put citizens at risk and create increasing demand for military response.
  • Secure in North America: The melting Arctic, in particular, increases exposure to threats from the North. Moreover, its security vision embraces its close ties to the U.S. military, but that exposes the challenge of navigating the complex U.S. posture on climate change.
  • Engaged in the World: With the world facing threats to stability amplified by climate stresses such as food insecurity, water scarcity, economic displacement and climate-related migration, Canada will need to anticipate new demands for peacekeeping and to advocate for international institutions to address these challenges holistically.

The Climate Security Plan for Canada makes several recommendations to respond to these risks in three broad categories: Anticipating Climate Change Risks, Adapting to the Changing Climate, and Acting Decisively in Response to Climate Change Impacts.  The overarching recommendation is that the Government of Canada develop a comprehensive national strategy through a Climate Security Task Force, to coordinate and plan for the climate-driven changes to come.

“As climate change reshapes the world, it cannot help but reshape Canada’s security challenges.  This is not a question of whether climate change is a higher priority than traditional security threats – it is a question of how climate change influences each of them.  As the Arctic melts, as natural disasters increase or as the world order is shaken by increased instability, how can and should Canadian defense and foreign policy posture adapt?” said Conger.

“As a major Arctic player, member of NATO and the G7/G20, and upholder of international rules and norms, Canada has an opportunity to lead in integrating climate security risk management into multilateral institutions. Just as Canada has championed its feminist foreign policy, Canada could play an outsized role in advancing understanding of climate change and security risks, another cross-cutting issue that will continue to reshape geopolitics and international security,” said Fetzek.

Read “A Climate and Security Plan for Canada”: Here

Direct inquiries to:  Francesco Femia, ffemia at climateandsecurity dot org, Whatsapp: +1-571-263-5691 

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The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) is a non-partisan security policy institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, with a distinguished team and Advisory Board of military, national security, intelligence and foreign policy experts.