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Yellow Card: Global Food Crisis Underscores Need for Systemic Security

By Brigitte Hugh

In January 2022, food prices were already higher than normal. Pandemic-driven supply chain and labor complications combined with intensifying climate hazards had negatively affected global food availability. Then Russia invaded Ukraine, which has drastically reduced grain exports from Europe’s breadbasket, compounding the situation. Among other devastating humanitarian consequences, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to higher global food prices, escalating shipping costs, decreased agricultural output, and limited fertilizer availability, increasing the number of people facing acute food insecurity from 276 million to 323 million. 

Further exacerbating the crisis is a global trade system built to deliver products on an ‘as needed’ basis. Food is moved just as previous stock runs out, which means if one or two deliveries are interrupted, there is no buffer for countries without long-term food stockpiles. This global food crisis highlights the impact converging risks will have on brittle global systems, and should have the same effect as a yellow card in soccer—warning the global community that care should be taken to prevent further harm. 

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A Case Study in the Environmental Risks of War: Kyiv Hydroelectric Power Plant

Kyiv Hydroelectric Power Plant in Vyshgorod, Ukraine. Source: Kiyanka

By Richard Marcantonio

The risks of warfare are complex. Beyond the often-devastating immediate humanitarian implications of large-scale violence, warfare’s impact on the broader environment is multifaceted, posing environmental, social, political, economic, and human health risks. The ongoing violence in Ukraine precipitated by Russia’s invasion has brought to the fore, again, the specter of these broader risks and what warfare in highly industrialized areas portends both locally and beyond.

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Nuclear Threats in Ukraine Today and Their Implications for Global Security Tomorrow

Source: Ігор Діклевич, March 2, 2019

By Christine Parthemore and Andrea Rezzonico

Amidst the mounting human toll of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its attacks are affecting nuclear energy sites as well. As of this writing, Russian forces have seized control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – the largest site of operating reactors in Europe. To date, the fighting at this plant and subsequent fire has not released harmful radiation or led to a catastrophic explosion. However, the plant’s staff is being held against their will to continue operating the nuclear reactors, likely enduring extreme stress and a lack of sufficient rest. Last week, the power line to Chernobyl was cut off, and while it is not currently operating, radioactive materials remain stored in spent fuel pools that require continuing safety measures. These events signal the extreme dangers that can surround nuclear sites in times of insecurity and in conflict zones. 

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BRIEFER: Climate, Ecological Security and the Ukraine Crisis: Four Issues to Consider

By Erin Sikorsky, Elsa Barron and Brigitte Hugh

In an analysis released early this year, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) noted that climate change and climate security risks are not separate from other security challenges facing the United States—instead, they are overlapping and interconnected. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is no exception. Climate change is shaping the national security landscape against which this crisis is unfolding, from the tactical to the strategic level. The Ukraine crisis exemplifies the importance of integrating a climate security lens into foreign policy—while climate stress is not the catalyst for conflict in this case, without an understanding of climate and energy transition dynamics brought to the table, policymakers may get key analytic questions and their answers wrong while also missing opportunities for constructive policy interventions.

In this briefer, we discuss four key areas of climate and ecological security that are linked to the crisis in Ukraine: 1) The need to accelerate the clean energy transition; 2) Degradation of Ukrainian ecological security; 3) Decreasing global food security; 4) Russia’s own climate security vulnerabilities.

Read the full briefer here.

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