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New Report: Climate Security Scenarios for Sweden

By Erin Sikorsky and Brigitte Hugh | Edited by Francesco Femia

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A new event report from the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), sponsored by Försvarshögskolan (Swedish Defence University), Climate Security Scenarios for Sweden explores Sweden’s security risks in the midst of external climate hazards exacerbated by warming temperatures and intense precipitation.

To assess these risks, the Center for Climate and Security and the Swedish Defence University convened leaders from across sectors of military, academia, civil society and the private sector to explore whole-of-society approaches that can be implemented throughout Sweden over the next five years.

From the Introduction:

In the coming decades, Sweden will face increasing security risks due to climate change. These risks stem primarily from climate hazards outside Sweden’s borders, though warming temperatures and increasingly erratic and intense precipitation may strain the country’s domestic military, energy, and economic infrastructure. External climate security game changers for Sweden include the potential for aggressive Russian and Chinese behavior in a more navigable Arctic, strains on the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) due to increasing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) demands, and the potential for reactionary European political responses to climate-related migration from the Middle East and North Africa. These threats are unlikely to develop on straightforward linear pathways, as climate change intersects with other developments to cause cascading or complex risks. Tipping points – whether from climate change or from societal developments – could amplify these risks on a shorter timeline than expected.

Navigating these risks requires a whole-of-society approach across Sweden that breaks down planning and programmatic siloes among government ministries, civil society and the private sector. To that end, in October 2022, the Swedish Defence University and the Center for Climate and Security convened a cross section of leaders from the military, academia, civil society and the private sector to explore potential future climate security scenarios for Sweden over the next five years. This paper provides an overview of the key findings of the scenarios discussion, including a discussion of drivers of climate security risk, and entry points for action and further research going forward.


Direct inquiries to: Andrew Facini, afacini [at] csrisks.org

Cover image: A satellite image of the Fennoscandian Peninsula, Denmark, and other areas surrounding the Baltic Sea covered in snow. Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres/ NASA GSFC.

BRIEFER: The Forgotten Countries in the “Muddy Middle” of Climate Security Risk: A Case for Addressing the Gap

By Tom Ellison

Climate security analysis lends itself to focusing on the extremes among countries, whether the greenhouse gas trajectories of the highest emitting countries or the adaptation challenges in the most exposed. This is evident in the (understandable) focus on the ten or 20 most climate vulnerable countries, where climate-related security impacts are most clear. However, with climate impacts set to worsen for decades even in a best-case emissions scenario, climate-related security challenges will continue to intensify in countries that are not considered the most vulnerable today–those in the “muddy middle” of climate vulnerability rankings. These countries get less attention because they are not top-5 emitters, great power rivals, or conflict-ridden crisis areas, but they are places where climate risks are less certain and where increased instability could be globally consequential.

This pitfall can be seen in the wide use of climate vulnerability indices by governments, civil society, journalists, and the private sector to measure countries’ vulnerability to climate change. Such indices have their place, but they can obscure aspects of climate security risks in countries with mixed or unremarkable scores.

This Briefer explores the limits of such rankings, examines the various climate-security risks of those countries in the “muddy middle,” and suggests analytical framing that can help reinforce the visibility of those risks faced in such countries:

Questions for country analysts to consider might include: How will climate change and the energy transition lift or depress the value of economic assets important to this country’s political forces? How might climate extremes align with existing social divisions, misinformation narratives, or cultural flashpoints, amplifying the impact of both? How could climate change or policies spur destabilizing grievances, by violating local expectations of governance, regardless of the level of absolute deprivation?

BRIEFER: Breaking Silos: Climate Change, Security, and Humanitarian Action—Roundtable Summary

By Elsa Barron, Brigitte Hugh, and Alejandra Portillo-Taylor

Edited by Francesco Femia and Erin Sikorsky

This briefer co-published with the International Committee of the Red Cross

Executive Summary

The convergence of climate change, security, and humanitarian action, including in places affected by conflict, demands nuanced consideration and dialogue among decision makers at all levels. In response to this need for dialogue, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) brought together representatives from a variety of U.S. government agencies as well as academic institutions, think tanks, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) approaching these issues from different but complementary vantage points. The discussion explored how relevant actors can work together to anticipate, mitigate, and respond to the humanitarian consequences brought on by the intersection of climate risks and conflict—both now and in the future.

The purpose of this briefer is to highlight key elements of that discussion—namely, challenges and opportunities for current procedures addressing conflict and climate consequences, and in developing knowledge.

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BRIEFER: Deepening U.S. Climate Security Ambition: A Road Map for 2023

By Brigitte Hugh and Erin Sikorsky

In 2022, the world faced the challenging reality of the nexus of climate change and security on a daily basis. From deadly floods, heatwaves, and droughts across nearly every continent, to an energy and food security crisis sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the impact of climate change and continued use of fossil fuels has increased instability and insecurity for communities around the globe. 

At the same time, U.S. policymakers and practitioners took unprecedented actions to address these intersecting security challenges. Many of these actions reflected recommendations the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) had made in the past – both in a short report, Taking Stock: Integrating Climate Change into U.S. National Security Practices in 2022 and the more in-depth Challenge Accepted: A Progress Report on the Climate Security Plan for America and Recommendations for the Way Ahead, endorsed by nearly 80 senior national security leaders. 

While we applaud and detail this progress in this briefer, we also recognize that it is far from enough. In particular, global investments in adaptation and resilience measures are woefully inadequate. The failure of the United States to increase climate finance funding last year – falling well short of its international pledges – was a missed opportunity to invest in U.S. national security. Helping the most climate-vulnerable countries address climate hazards can prevent instability and conflict that threatens U.S. interests, and strengthens U.S. credibility and leadership on the global stage. 

In 2023, U.S. policymakers and practitioners will have many opportunities to solidify and institutionalize progress on climate security. Overall, the key themes for 2023 should be: execution, integration, and sustainability. Strategies and roadmaps have been created – now it is time for implementation.

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