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Climate Security and the U.S.-Russia Summit

Bilateral meeting Putin-Biden, March 10, 2011

By Steve Brock and Roger Ullman

When Presidents Biden and Putin meet today on the shores of Lake Geneva they won’t be short of contentious topics to discuss. With the bilateral relationship at its lowest point since the Cold War, many have pointed to cooperation on climate change as rare common ground worth exploring in a meeting that will be dominated by multiple areas of serious disagreement.  The emergence of climate as an unlikely bridge is largely based on Putin’s surprising participation and cooperative tone at President Biden’s April Leaders Summit on Climate. Over the weekend, Putin told Russian State TV that there were “issues where we can work together” with the United States, including climate change. Posturing aside, a frank discussion about the importance of addressing climate change merits a place on their crowded agenda given the urgency of the global security implications outlined in the recent World Climate and Security Report 2021 from the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security. Establishing discourse on climate security can serve both sides’ summit objective to find paths of de-escalation in a relationship that’s precariously close to rock bottom. To the world, it would also signal that even adversaries locked in bitter, wide-ranging disputes can recognize there is no longer time to waste in finding ways to come together to meet a global existential threat. 

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Ahead of Arctic Council Meeting, New “Story Map” Analysis Outlines Mounting Climate Change Risks to Arctic Security

May 18, 2021 — Today, ahead of Thursday’s Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, the Council on Strategic Risks’ Converging Risks Lab and the Woodwell Climate Research Center release a new “story map” analysis of the major impacts climate change and permafrost thaw will have on defense infrastructure and security operations in the Arctic. It shows that against a backdrop of regional warming, Arctic nations are increasingly competing alongside the accelerating and dangerous impacts of climate change. 

The forthcoming report whose findings are previewed this week in the “story map” analysis titled “Temperatures and Tensions Rise: Security and Climate Risks in the Arctic,” combines the latest climate projections with security analysis. It examine two main trends that will experience significant change in the Arctic and result in new challenges: rapid environmental shifts that will destabilize the region, including loss of sea ice, new temperature extremes, warming oceans, permafrost thaw, and biodiversity changes, and an influx of new human activity, including resource extraction, development, use of new shipping lanes, and military traffic. The story map analysis derived from the forthcoming report includes detailed regional maps overlaying the extent of these climate changes and their future projections alongside increasing human and security activities in the region.

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VIDEO: Is Russia overturning the global order? Maybe. It’s complicated.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Russialsta_tmo_2010208_lrg-1024x768.jpg

By Andrea Rezzonico 

In the third video of its new series on the intersections of climate change and nuclear developments, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) posed questions about Russia’s climate, nuclear, and security intersections to four experts with different perspectives. Their responses highlight the range of analysis regarding Russia’s growing influence amidst a changing global order. 

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Emerging Threat: As the Arctic Melts, Russian Plans to Militarize Could Create a Nuclear Hotspot

Russian_arctic_claimBy Jasmine Owens

New opportunities are arising for various countries as climate change devastates the Arctic. However, Russia has already begun to stake its claim by increasing its military presence in the region.

The Arctic is experiencing momentous transformations as climate change wreaks havoc in the region. It is warming at twice the rate than the rest of the world. This is creating a positive feedback loop: as the temperatures rise in the Arctic, the sea ice that used to reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere is melting more, which causes the darker ocean water or land to absorb more light and thus increases the temperatures in the region. Due to the rising temperatures, the Arctic is predicted to be completely ice-free during the summer by 2050, even if significant international action is taken now to reduce carbon emissions. There is also a major concern that over time, the Arctic will lose all ability to produce ice, leaving it ice-free year-round. (more…)

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