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On the Record: Climate as a Security Risk According to U.S. Administration Officials

James_Mattis_Official_SECDEF_PhotoUnder both Republican and Democratic Administrations, senior U.S. military, national security and foreign policy leaders have recognized the security risks of climate change, and urged a response that is commensurate to the threat. In this context, The Center for Climate and Security has created a new page, On The Record, on its Climate Security 101 Project website compiling key statements on the issue from current and past military, national security and foreign policy leaders. This is not a complete list, but it is a good reminder that climate change is far more than just an environmental concern. (more…)

Event: Climate and National Security Forum 2016

CNSF 2016 LOGO - MASSIVEThe Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Center for the National Interest and the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, hosted the first annual Climate and National Security Forum on September 14, 2016 from 8:45am-6:30pm ET. The Forum was held in Washington, DC at the Reserve Officers Association Minuteman Memorial Building, 1 Constitution Ave NE.


Climate Change and Security at Yale University

unnamed (3)“Are conventional notions of national security broad enough to accommodate the evolving global risks and trends?”

“Will Americans support more frequent military interventions across conflict ridden and resource-stressed regions?” 

These were just a few of the questions fielded by former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Ms.Sherri Goodman and retired Commander, and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Climate and Security, Oliver Barrett, at a Yale University-hosted event on 28 March. The event entitled ‘Decoding Climate Risk’ was the latest expert and distinguished speaker event hosted by Yale and focused on “decoding” the reasons why the Pentagon treats climate change as a strategic risk requiring immediate action. (more…)

Admiral Sam J. Locklear Joins the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

UntitledThe Center for Climate and Security is honored to welcome Admiral Sam J. Locklear, United States Navy (Retired), to its distinguished Advisory Board of senior military, national security and foreign policy experts. Admiral Locklear recently retired from the US Navy after serving with distinction for over 39 years, including 15 years of service as a Flag Officer. During his significant tenure as a four star, Admiral Locklear lead at the highest levels serving as Commander U.S. Pacific Command, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command.

As Commander U.S. Pacific Command, the United States’ oldest and largest geographic unified combatant command, he commanded all U.S. military forces operating across more than half the globe. He accurately assessed the rapidly changing geopolitical environment of the Indo-Asia-Pacific, the most militarized area of the world, made significant advancements in how U.S. forces are postured for crisis or contingency, and was instrumental in addressing the growing global cyber challenges in the region. A key architect of America’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, Admiral Locklear provided the vision, strategic framework, and detailed planning that began the rebalance of U.S. military influence to the Asia-Pacific. He skillfully managed the US military relationships with our five Pacific treaty allies, numerous key security partners, and emerging multilateral security forums. Additionally, he maintained a pragmatic but lasting relationship with China’s military and made significant progress in developing a deeper strategic security relationship with India. (more…)

Climate Change & Nuclear Risks


Main building of Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station, near Zarechny, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. Beloyarsk has the largest fast breeder reactor (BN-600) of the world and is currently building another one (BN-800).

By Christine Parthemore, Senior Research and Policy Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

While experts have long spoken of a “nuclear renaissance” in the global energy market, the Paris climate negotiations brought nuclear power to a new prominence. Climate change, regional political balancing, and other drivers have combined to push many countries to pledge increases in nuclear energy capacity in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted in advance of the 2015 climate conference.

Though these national emissions-reduction plans are not yet legally binding in most countries, they are providing a greater level of detail that we normally see on long-term nuclear energy intentions. This, in turn, allows us greater fidelity in mapping the potential spread of the nuclear knowledge, technologies, and products of greatest concern — indispensable knowledge that we can use to minimize risks of the proliferation or terrorist acquisition of nuclear materials. (more…)

Let’s Not Say Climate Change Causes War. But Let’s Also Not Ignore the Real Security Risks

Reuters/Rodi Said

Reuters/Rodi Said

Foreign Policy published an article yesterday by David Livingstone titled “Stop Saying Climate Change Causes War: The dangerous ethical implications of letting humans off the hook for their conflicts.” We agree with the title. Climate change contributes to insecurity, and can contribute to conflict, but there’s little evidence suggesting that climate change acts as a primary cause of war. We also do not want to let the authoritarians of the world off the hook for their bad governance. However, the article goes on to largely dismiss, or ignore, recent research demonstrating a connection between climate change and security. Most worryingly it seems to be arguing with outdated 19th century “environmental determinist” thinkers. This is a misguided trend which could obscure rather than illuminate the truth. (more…)

Climate Change, World & Regional Order: OSCE Security Days & Planetary Security Initiative

Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia, Co-Directors of the Center for Climate and Security, on a panel on Syria at the Planetary Security Conference, the Hague, 2-3 November, 2015

Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia, Co-Directors of the Center for Climate and Security, on the panel “Analysis of Syria: Lessons Learned” at the Planetary Security Conference, the Hague, 2 November, 2015

All eyes are on the international climate negotiations at the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. However, the risks associated with a changing climate are so far-reaching, that it will take a broad range of international, regional, national and sub-national institutions to address them. These institutions will have to conceive of and implement actions that go well beyond what is agreed in Paris this month.

In this context, two conferences – one hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and one by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs – were held in late October/ early November, respectively. Among other objectives, a question both of these conferences sought to answer was: “Since climate change poses significant risks to international security, what can be done to make our governance systems more resilient?” (more…)