The Center for Climate & Security

Balancing on a Knife’s Edge: Climate Security Implications of the IPCC Findings

A wildfire at Florida Panther NWR. Photo by Josh O'Connor - USFWS.
A wildfire at Florida Panther NWR. Photo by Josh O’Connor – USFWS.

By Akash Ramnath and Kate Guy

New scientific consensus released today details the potential future course of climate change, with serious repercussions for international security and stability. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first product of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), summarizing the latest scientific understanding on the state of global climate change. This report, completed by the IPCC Working Group I (WGI), offers the best collective picture of how human caused climate change is impacting the physical systems of the planet now and in the future. 

The report makes clear that our planet’s climatic systems are changing rapidly in response to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By 2100, global average temperatures are expected to rise between 2.1-3.5°C in an intermediate scenario, or 3.3-5.7°C in a high emissions scenario, if humans do not curb and continue expanding greenhouse gas emitting activities. The path to keeping global temperatures to just 1.5°C of warming, the report states, looks increasingly narrow; while every additional fraction of a degree in planetary warming will have worsening impacts on climate stability.

The findings of the WGI report have two important implications for security audiences: First, cutting emissions and adapting to climate impacts are equally important for security in the coming years; second, that the increasing risk of crossing climate tipping points suggests security services must prepare for managing multiple climate-induced crises at once. 

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The Pentagon Previews Climate Adaptation Plan in Congressional Hearing


By John Conger

On July 14, 2021, the Readiness Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee held a virtual hearing on the  installations and environment portfolios of the Department of Defense (DoD).  The witnesses were: Paul Cramer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Sustainment); Jack Surash, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations, Energy and Environment); Todd Schafer, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment); and Jennifer Miller, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Energy, Installations, and Environment).  The hearing and the witness statements addressed a wide range of topics in this portfolio – to include climate resilience at DoD installations.

Note that each of these senior officials was Acting in their positions at the time of the hearing.  Each are senior civilian officials that are filling political jobs pending nomination and confirmation of political appointees in these roles.  Since this hearing, Meredith Berger has been confirmed as the Navy’s Assistant Secretary.  Rachel Jacobson is the pending nominee for the Army job.  No nominee has been announced for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) or Air Force roles.

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BRIEF REPORT: North Korea, Climate Change and Security

By Catherine Dill, Alexandra Naegele, Natalie Baillargeon, Monica Caparas, Dominick Dusseau, Madeleine Holland, and Christopher Schwalm

North Korea’s provocative posture and its nuclear arsenal have shielded it from much of the pressures of globalization and integration with the international community. But neither politics nor arms can defend it from climate change. Impending climate impacts threaten to exacerbate North Korea’s already precarious ability to provide public goods for its population and thus maintain regime stability, multiplying risk factors for the Korean peninsula and the entire region.

Our new report “Converging Crises in North Korea: Security, Stability and Climate Change,” accompanied by a visual storymap, projects climate impacts on crop yields by 2040, inland flooding by 2050, and sea levels by 2050. Projections reveal rice and maize yield failures will become more likely along the Western coastlines by 2030. The country will experience significant intensification of extreme rainfall and increased flooding, with coastal areas increasingly at risk from sea level rise and inland areas – including sensitive nuclear sites – at risk of inundation if not properly protected.

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New report on the UN Security Council’s work on climate security published

This is a cross-post from the Planetary Security Initiative

In the past 18 months, the emergence of climate security as a mainstreamed and core risk for national governments and IGOs has accelerated. In particular, the UN Security Council (UNSC) is becoming more cognizant of climate change being a core security risk that should be under the remit of the organ and subsequently integrated into peacekeeping considerations and mission deployments.

A new report just published by “Security Council Report” is a first comprehensive analysis on the centrality and action of the UNSC, commissioned by the member states of the ‘Group of Friends on Climate and Security’. It seems to fill the void of no official UNSC report existing yet on the topic. The overarching message is that the issue is becoming increasingly talked about and embedded within the UN, but that disagreements over climate change’s impacts on security and whether it should be dealt with by a security organ persist.  The Security Council itself has seen 2 debates hosted on climate security in 2020 and 2021 respectively and the establishment of an Informal Expert Group to push for greater focus on the UNSC attention on climate security. 

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