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Briefer: One Year Later: Unraveling Climate and Ecological Security in Ukraine
By Elsa Barron, Brigitte Hugh, and Michael R. Zarfos
Edited by Tom Ellison
On February 24, 2022, the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine irrevocably altered the geopolitical landscape. The year since has witnessed a devastating humanitarian catastrophe in the country, and also a complex and systemic interplay of climate change, environmental degradation, and conflict.
In the wake of the initial invasion, the Center for Climate and Security published a briefer overviewing challenges and concerns regarding climate and ecological security in the midst of the conflict. One year after the invasion, this briefer reassesses the war’s implications for the energy transition, as well as global climate, ecological and food security.
New Report: Climate Security Scenarios for Sweden
By Erin Sikorsky and Brigitte Hugh | Edited by Francesco Femia
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: Climate Change as a “Threat Multiplier”: History, Uses and Future of the Concept
By Sherri Goodman and Pauline Baudu
Edited by Erin Sikorsky and Francesco Femia
“Threat multiplier” has become a widely used term by scholars and practitioners to describe climate change implications for security in both the policy realm and climate-security literature. The term was coined in 2007 by the CNA (Center for Naval Analyses) Military Advisory Board under the leadership of Sherri Goodman. It captures how climate change effects interact with and have the potential to exacerbate pre-existing threats and other drivers of instability to contribute to security risks. The concept has been characterized as “definitional” in having “set a baseline for how to talk about the issue” and having shaped “the way in which people studying climate policy think about risks.” Its use has also been described as “one of the most prominent ways in which the security implications of climate change have been understood.”
This briefer provides an account of the history of the “threat multiplier” term from its creation in the context of the environmental security era in 2007 to its progressive adoption by military, policy, and academic circles in the United States and abroad. It then examines the different conceptual ramifications that have derived from the term and its evolutions in capturing changing climate security realities.(more…)
New Report: China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities
By Erin Sikorsky | Edited by Francesco Femia
A new, first-of-its-kind report from the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities explores China’s security vulnerabilities in the face of expected climate change effects, focusing on its key risks, the Chinese response so far, and identifies important uncertainties as conditions continue to develop. The report also makes several recommendations for the United States as it addresses what the Department of Defense has called the “pacing threat” from China.
While China is often credited with better integrating a long-term approach to its strategic planning than the West, there are key uncertainties regarding Beijing’s climate security preparations, including tensions between day-to-day politics and strategic planning, as well as the adequacy of its adaptation strategy, which is largely rooted in physical infrastructure projects.
From the Executive Summary:
From melting glaciers in the Tibetan Plateau to the effect of rising sea levels on the heavily populated Yangtze River Basin and Pearl River Delta, from record heatwaves and drought to unprecedented flooding from extreme precipitation—a range of climate hazards threaten critical Chinese civilian and military infrastructure, risk domestic political instability, including in already restive regions of the country, and challenge Chinese geopolitical interests abroad.
China’s senior leadership appears to recognize climate change as a national security threat. Under Xi Jinping, China has adopted a broad concept of national security that encompasses internal and external, traditional and non-traditional threats. It is unclear, however, the extent to which ecological and climate security topics have permeated Chinese military strategy and doctrine, though public documents and statements provide some indications that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is at least considering these climate implications.
Direct inquiries to: Andrew Facini, afacini [at] csrisks.org