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BRIEFER: The Climate-Nuclear-Security Nexus: A Collision Course or a Road to New Opportunities?
By Christine Parthemore, Executive Director, The Center for Climate and Security
Today, new nations are pursuing civilian but dual-use nuclear capabilities, the threat of non-state actors seeking nuclear materials may be growing, and countries continue to debate proper ways to enhance nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation systems to keep up with the pace of change. At the same time, governments worldwide are having difficulty managing the effects of a rapidly changing climate, such as more damaging natural disasters and resource stress. The relationships among nuclear, climate, and security risks are growing more complex and interconnected, and these issues are likely to begin converging in new ways. By early 2016, it has become clear that the international community must take a fresh look at the ways in which they are likely to connect and potentially collide in the years ahead, and foster deeper dialogue on what should be done about it. (more…)
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…)
The Center for Climate and Security is delighted to welcome Dr. Janne E. Nolan to its Advisory Board. (more…)
A recent article in the New Yorker highlights President Obama’s suggestion that were he to be re-elected, action on climate change and nuclear proliferation would top his foreign affairs agenda. As we have argued previously, these two issues should both be analyzed under the same risk analysis lens. In other words, what kind of security risk do we face from climate change, and what kind of security risk do we face from nuclear proliferation? The answers to these questions need to underpin the level of attention and resources the U.S. expends in order to mitigate these risks. And indeed, according to certain assessments, climate change is an overwhelmingly high probability and high impact risk, while the possibility of a nuclear detonation is a relatively lower probability, yet very high impact risk. In both cases, the security risks are unacceptable, and must be addressed with a scale of resources undiluted by partisan politics.
Climate and Security 101: Why the U.S. National Security Establishment Takes Climate Change Seriously
In a 2007 report by the CNA Military Advisory Board, General Gordon R. Sullivan stated: “People are saying they want to be perfectly convinced about climate science projections…But speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.”
The national security establishment in the United States, including the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence community, understand that climate change is a national security threat, and that we cannot wait for 100% certainty before acting to mitigate and adapt to its effects. But not only do they understand it, they plan for it – considering it’s implications in strategic documents like the Quadrennial Defense Review, and setting up an office within the CIA called the Center for Climate Change and National Security. But why? (more…)