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IMCCS and NATO at the Munich Security Conference on the Eve of Conflict: Addressing Catastrophic Risks

MSC, Munich Security Conference, Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Fürstensalon. Source: Elsa Barron, International Military Council on Climate and Security, Feb 18, 2022.

By Elsa Barron

The threat of a likely Russian invasion of Ukraine hung over the recent 2022 Munich Security Conference, held from February 18-20. Events and discussions regarding NATO’s role in responding to this immediate geopolitical, and potential humanitarian, crisis were many. Devastatingly, these conversations that were at the time hypothetical are now coming to pass.

Other cross-cutting crises, and NATO’s role in addressing them, were also discussed in depth – including the security risks of a changing climate. In that context, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) was honored to partner with NATO to host an event titled: “An Adaptation Battle Plan: Implementing Climate Security Action.” Speakers included The Honorable Anita Anand, Canadian Minister of National Defense, The Honorable Baiba Braže, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defense of the Netherlands (Ret) and Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), and The Honorable David van Weel, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.

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Converging Climate Risks: Government, Military, and Business at NATO 2030

Afghan Air Force and NATO mentors battle floods. July 29, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Jimmie Barrow/RELEASED)

By Elsa Barron and Lily Feldman

There are few challenges more “transatlantic” in nature than the climate crisis. No single nation can fix the issue at hand, yet through strong partnerships, hopefully the worst effects of climate change can be managed to help avert catastrophe. At the NATO 2030 Brussels Forum, taking place on the opening day of the NATO Summit, partnerships around climate security were a leading topic of discussion. The panel, “Operating in Times of Climate Change,” featured experts Congressman Ted Deutch (D-CA), Marsden Hanna, Head of Sustainability and Climate Policy at Google, and Sherri Goodman, Chair of the Board of the Council on Strategic Risks and Senior Strategist at the Center for Climate and Security. The panel, moderated by Janini Vivekanada of Adelphi, addressed major climate risks and opportunities at the intersection of government, security, and business interests, exploring opportunities to expand collaboration around and commitments towards climate action.

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New Climate Security Report has Implications for NATO and COP26

By Danice Ball and Lily Feldman

Earlier this month, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released the World Climate and Security Report (WCSR) 2021, the second in an ongoing series of annual reports. The report dives into climate security risk assessments for a few hotspot regions, including Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and also provides concrete tools to help policymakers address the growing unprecedented threats. A unique inclusion in this year’s report is a new Climate Security Risk Matrix and Methodology, which allows for evaluation of comparative climate risk among countries. In addition, the report features a Climate Security Risk Perception Survey, aggregating forecasts of climate risks from leading climate security experts in the world. These experts find climate security to be among the most pressing issues the world faces now, and a priority for future planning efforts. Between the Risk Matrix, the Survey, climate security case studies, and policy recommendations, the IMCCS Expert Group believes that policymakers will find the information needed to inform next steps in both preparing for and preventing climate security risks.

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Security Highlights from the Leaders Summit on Climate

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is President_Biden_Kicks_Off_the_Virtual_Leaders_Summit_on_Climate_51133294486.jpg
U.S. President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. kicks off the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate in Washington, D.C., on April 22, 2021. 

By Erin Sikorsky

Last week’s Leaders Summit on Climate made history for many reasons — because of the number of new commitments on cutting emissions, its virtual nature, the focus on environmental justice, and that climate security was included at a level never before seen on the global stage. The big news out of the summit was President Biden’s announcement of a new target for the United States to achieve a 50 to 52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030. This step is in line with our call in the 2019 A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change for “the world to achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible in a manner that is ambitious, safe, equitable, and well governed, in order to avoid severe and catastrophic security futures.”

More specific to climate security risks already underway, US Secretary of Defense Austin led a session focused on identifying climate security risks and reiterating existing promises for combating them. While this administration has done more than any other towards elevating climate security as a foreign policy priority, it’s now time to move from talk to action–toward realigning priorities, strategies and missions to meet the climate security threat. The discussion led by Secretary Austin revealed multiple pathways to do so — and an international community that welcomes US leadership on the topic. Three of the key takeaways on which to build are as follows:

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