The Center for Climate & Security

The Use of Climate as a Scapegoat for Governance Abuses and Failures – and Why That’s a Problem

Lake Assad and the Tabaqah Dam

By Peter Schwartzstein

Getting environmental officials to expound on their countries’ crises can be futile in much of the Middle East and North Africa (and well beyond). These officials might not want to talk about pollution because they have no plan – or wherewithal – to tackle it. It can be difficult to draw them out on the causes of degraded landscapes as they’re generally powerless to stifle the perpetrators. Even biodiversity die-off is often out. It can be too closely linked to their own governments’ policies.

There is one subject, though, where many of these public officials have considerably less reserve, and that’s climate change. As a devastating global phenomenon for which most of their states are only marginally responsible, many feel it’s the safest of ground. In discussions across these regions, previously tight-lipped interviewees have frequently become outright voluble when I’ve solicited their thoughts on drought, desertification, dust storms, and more. ‘Ah, benign territory!’ their expressions sometimes seem to suggest. 

There’s a tremendous upside to this heightened interest, of course. With some of the fiercest climate stresses in the world and some of the most limited efforts to adapt or mitigate the damage to date, many Middle Eastern and North African states desperately need to face up to these threats, particularly in the field of climate security, where they’re feeling the pressure more than most. Indeed, some already are. A number of African states have redirected up to 10% of their GDP to combat stresses from climate change. The sooner laggard officials are moved to concrete action the better.

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UK publishes new Climate-Defence Roadmap

This is a cross-post from The Planetary Security Initiative

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) published a new roadmap on how to address the impacts of climate change on the activities of the armed forces. The ambition outlined is to enhance the resilience of the army’s operations and assets, whilst also creating a more sustainable and environmentally focused culture within the wider defence sector. Lieutenant-General Richard Nugee, who spoke at the webinar on climate security hosted by the PSI and British Embassy in the Netherlands last month, was tasked by the MoD to assess the readiness of the British armed forces to climate considerations. The publication of the report led to the roadmap, which outlines three core focuses for climate-reform within the military with targets set by 2050:

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Congressional Hearing on Resilience Highlights Climate Change Risks

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Rain_on_Capitol_Hill.jpg

By John Conger

On Friday, March 26, the Readiness Subcommittee of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on resilience, which in recent years has become synonymous with climate change adaptation.  It was a remarkably substantive hearing, with senior representatives of the military services (LTG Douglas Gabram, Commander Army Installations Management Command; VADM Yancey Lindsey, Commander Navy Installations Command; MajGen Edward Banta, Commander Marine Corps Installations Command; and Brig Gen John Allen, Commander Air Force Civil Engineering Center) citing progress on a variety of fronts, listing actions at specific bases, and clearly communicating the seriousness of the resilience requirement in the face of climate change and the increasing impacts of extreme weather.  It was also clear, however, that they had a very long way to go.

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This Month, Meet the CSR Women Making History

By Christine Cavallo

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we are excited to highlight the women across the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) who are leading and shaping all of our organizations components: the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), the Converging Risks Lab (CRL), and the Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons (the Nolan Center).

First, we must recognize that the Council on Strategic Risks would not be what it is today without the immense and irreplaceable support of founding board member, the late Dr. Janne E. Nolan. She had a long career as an author and a dedicated public servant, working across the State Department, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and as the defense advisor to several presidential campaigns and transition teams among numerous other positions. Her work continued into nonprofits and academia as she pioneered nuclear security affairs and practical, non-partisan solutions for anticipating, analyzing and addressing systemic risks to security. CSR’s CEO Christine Parthemore penned a blog post earlier this month about how this organization—and the entire field of national security—would not be what they are today without Janne’s leadership and contributions.

The depth of talent across CSR cannot be overstated. The women on our Board and our core teams have trailblazed their way through security and scientific spaces, and worked tirelessly to push boundaries and build new career fields for others. Many have served as the cornerstones of growth and progress in their fields, and continue to build on those foundations and advance solutions to nuclear, climate, environmental, and biological threats and beyond.

We reached out to some of those women to ask about each of their paths, and we share their answers with you below: 

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