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BRIEFER: Climate Security: An Agenda for Future Research

By Dr. Duncan Depledge, Matt Ince, Olivia Lazard, and Erin Sikorsky

Climate change is altering the physical and strategic context in which national and international security is pursued. But it is not just increased climate variability and its socio-economic consequences that could compound instability and violent conflict in the future. The scale of transformation required to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, as well as the speed and orderliness with which any such transition must occur, carries additional risk and demands more attention from scholars and policymakers. That was the
conclusion of a virtual roundtable organized by the UK Ministry of Defence’s Climate Change & Sustainability Directorate and Loughborough University in May 2022, led by the authors of this briefer. The following draws from the roundtable conversations.

Read the full briefer here.

BRIEFER: Climate, Ecological Security and the Ukraine Crisis: Four Issues to Consider

By Erin Sikorsky, Elsa Barron and Brigitte Hugh

In an analysis released early this year, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) noted that climate change and climate security risks are not separate from other security challenges facing the United States—instead, they are overlapping and interconnected. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is no exception. Climate change is shaping the national security landscape against which this crisis is unfolding, from the tactical to the strategic level. The Ukraine crisis exemplifies the importance of integrating a climate security lens into foreign policy—while climate stress is not the catalyst for conflict in this case, without an understanding of climate and energy transition dynamics brought to the table, policymakers may get key analytic questions and their answers wrong while also missing opportunities for constructive policy interventions.

In this briefer, we discuss four key areas of climate and ecological security that are linked to the crisis in Ukraine: 1) The need to accelerate the clean energy transition; 2) Degradation of Ukrainian ecological security; 3) Decreasing global food security; 4) Russia’s own climate security vulnerabilities.

Read the full briefer here.

BRIEFER – Taking Stock: Integrating Climate Change into U.S. National Security Practices in 2022

By Erin Sikorsky and Brigitte Hugh

In late 2021, the Biden Administration released a suite of national security and foreign policy documents[1] that according to the administration, would “serve as a foundation for [its] critical work on climate and security moving forward.”[2] This briefer synthesizes four key takeaways of these reports: 1) Climate change is forcing the U.S. national security community to reexamine its assumptions about how the world works; 2) Climate security is a current problem and a future problem; 3) Climate security risks are wide-ranging and not confined to particular geographies or sectors; 4) Climate security cannot be separated from other major security concerns—in fact, it shapes and exacerbates those concerns.

If 2021 was about analyzing the problem and making the case that climate change is a national security concern, then 2022 should be about making concrete changes to how US agencies do business so they are equipped to address climate security challenges going forward. To that end, we recommend that the U.S. government pursue five priorities: 1) Mainstream climate security in regional strategies; 2) Link climate adaptation programs with conflict prevention; 3) Maximize whole-of-government approaches to linking climate science and national security; 4) Increase climate security support for allies and partners; 5) Leverage strategic foresight tools to prepare for climate security risks – including worst case scenarios.

Read the full briefer here.

[1] These documents included: (1) National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Climate Change from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI); (2) Department of Defense (DoD) Climate Risk Analysis (DCRA); (3) Strategic Framework to Address Climate Change for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ; (4) Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration, the first such report released by the United States Government; (5) The Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Plan.

[2] “Fact Sheet: Prioritizing Climate in Foreign Policy and National Security,” The White House, October 21, 2021.

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