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RELEASE: New Report by Security Experts Warns of “Great Power Conflict” Potential in Arctic if Climate Change Uncurbed

Washington DC, January 27, 2021 — Today’s forthcoming climate announcements by the Biden Administration speak to the urgency of addressing climate change threats to security. These realities are nowhere more visible than in the Arctic, where the onset of climate change presents dangerous new realities for great power competition and conflict. 

new reportClimate Change and Security in the Arctic, released today by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an Institute of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), together with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), assesses the growing security risks posed by a warming climate in one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth. The report concludes that the risks posed by uncurbed warming include the potential for new conflicts, the breakdown of multilateral cooperation, and rising great power tensions. The analysis looks at two future warming scenarios (curbed and uncurbed) to project security threats alongside potential environmental changes deemed likely in the High North by 2030.

The analysis identifies a number of key Arctic climate security risks across both warming scenarios, but notes that the risks are more severe and more likely in an “uncurbed” warming scenario. In a “curbed” scenario in which the world takes rapid action to curb climate change, including by transforming energy use, decarbonizing the global economy, and building international institutions to manage climate risks, the Arctic is likely to see fewer opportunities for severe security risks. The report recommends integrating this climate risk analysis into Arctic planning strategies into the coming years, and avoiding the uncurbed warming scenario.

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