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A Very Strong Signal: 5 Key Takeaways on John Kerry’s Climate Envoy Role and Seat on the National Security Council

By John Conger, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

On Monday, President-Elect Biden announced several members of his national security team.  They included Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, and… former Secretary of State John Kerry as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. While each of these announcements have positive implications for how climate change is addressed by the national security enterprise, let’s explore five key implications of this last announcement. 

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BRIEFER: Connecting Nuclear and Climate Policy in the Biden Administration

Over the past four years, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) has operated a working group to examine the convergence of two of the world’s greatest challenges: nuclear threats and climate change. Whether countries significantly expand reliance on nuclear energy to help address the climate crisis—or whether they pivot away from nuclear energy—either pathway will have a profound impact on future nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation trends. The strength and contours of international political will to aggressively address the climate crisis will in turn shape nuclear trends. 

Read the briefer here.

VIDEO: Can Climate Change Undermine Nuclear Deterrence?

Some experts are concerned that tensions over water, territory, and other issues may increase nuclear detonation risks in regions like South Asia. An Indian Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile on a road-mobile launcher, January 26, 2004. Antônio Milena (ABr)

By Natasha E. Bajema, Ph.D.

Maybe. It’s Complicated.

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) posed a series of questions about the Arctic region to four leading national security experts with different perspectives in a recent video interview below. Together, their diverse answers may help us to better understand the complex linkages across climate change, Arctic sea melt and new sea routes, prospects for conflict, competition, and cooperation within the global order, and new risks associated with nuclear weapons.

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BRIEFER: Brazil – A Climate, Nuclear, and Security Hotspot

By Andrea Rezzonico and Meggen Watt Petersen

Excerpt: This briefer, part of CSR’s series on hotspots experiencing unique combinations of climate, nuclear, and security challenges, examines Brazil’s nuclear developments, environmental challenges, climate change impacts, and socioeconomic landscape. The magnitude of Brazil’s geographic footprint, natural resources, and population helps define the nation as a global power. Yet a growing sense of agitation is rooted alongside the strengths: its pushback against global climate goals; a general public disconcerted by government corruption and increasingly authoritarian actions; a gnawing dissatisfaction with the handling of the pandemic; and a bold assertiveness to prioritize an expensive, indigenous nuclear-powered attack submarine while overlooking what are regarded as perhaps more pressing humanitarian needs. While the country is attempting to manage a multi-layered crisis, it could eventually sink beneath the convergences of these issues and become an alarming case study in what might occur if current institutions are not bolstered to address its growing security threats.

Read the full briefer here.

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