Security and Defence

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World Climate and Security Report 2021

07 Jun 2021 - 15:39
Source: Mount Makalu-Himalayas / European Space Agency

The Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released its second annual World Climate and Security Report.

The report which warns of the compound security threats posed by the convergence of climate change with other global risks, such as COVID-19. The report reveals that the increasing pace and intensity of climate hazards will strain military and security services around the world as they are called on to respond to climate-driven crises, while also facing direct climate threats to their own infrastructure and readiness. The authors also call on security institutions around the globe to act as “leading voices urging significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, given recent warnings about the catastrophic security implications of climate change under plausible climate scenarios.”

The report release featured senior climate security experts from NATO, the United States, the UK, and Europe, including NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges David van Weel, former Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gotemoeller, Lt. Gen. Richard Nugee, UK Ministry of Defence, and Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Francois Bausch. 

The report launch was timed ahead of the G7 and NATO Summit where confronting climate change will be at the top of  the agenda. Leaders at these meetings can look to the WCSR 2021 for guidance on addressing climate security risks. Report authors identify opportunities to further “climate proof” international security, including how to take advantage of renewed US leadership on climate action, and build on the climate security momentum from the EU and NATO. The report includes new and improved tools for tackling climate security — including a new risk methodology for tracking the change in global climate risks and an evaluation of nascent best practices for confronting these risks, within defense, diplomatic, and development entities. 

In highlighting the key findings of the report, the Chair of IMCCS, General Tom Middendorp, former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands, stated:

“Climate change already poses significant risks to global security. It is time to act. As this report, as well as the global International Military Council on Climate and Security leadership on the issue shows, more and more military leaders are raising the alarm. They recognize the security community has a responsibility to work hand in hand with sectors across their societies in order to prepare for and prevent these threats, including through climate-proofing international security at all levels.” 

Louise van Schaik of the Planetary Security Initiative and Clingendael Institute, who serves as Senior Member of the Executive Committee of the IMCCS and lead author of the report chapter, “Practices to Reduce Climate Security Risks: A First Reflection,” noted:

“Climate-security awareness is now finally being translated into practices to reduce insecurities. Powerful actors, such as militaries from the EU, need to step up their efforts since they can make meaningful contributions and help to open up space for action implemented by civilian actors.”  

Read report and two-page summary.

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The International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate. The group was founded and is administered by the Center  for Climate and Security (CCS), an institute of the Council  on Strategic Risks (CSR), in partnership with the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and the Planetary Security Initiative of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)