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Summer Heatwave Underscores Importance of NATO’s Climate Security Focus

By Erin Sikorsky

On July 18, the UK Royal Air Force halted flights out of its largest airbase because the ‘runway had melted’ —a line my colleagues suggested they’d expect to read in a dystopian science fiction novel about the future. Alas, this headline was all too real, as countries across Europe battled record climate change-driven heatwaves. 

While part of the RAF was (temporarily) grounded, other European militaries—in Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Cyprus, and Slovenia—were helping fight unprecedented fires across their countries. Nearly half of the EU and UK is at risk of drought, with the European Commission’s Joint Research Center assessing that water and heat stress are driving crop yields down and straining energy production across the continent. Given that food and energy crises were expected well before this heatwave struck, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg could not have asked for a better illustration of his assertion that climate change is a “crisis multiplier.”

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Read, Watch, Listen: CCS Across the Web | June 2022

By Brigitte Hugh

Welcome to “Read, Watch, Listen” from the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a monthly round-up highlighting some of the articles, interviews, and podcasts featuring the CCS network of experts.  

In June, CCS experts focused on the recently released “Climate Action 2030” from the Navy, and the NATO ministerial which took place in Madrid.

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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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