24 February 2020   Leave a comment

The Center of Climate and Security, a nonpartisan think tank, has released a report entitled “A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change“. The key findings of the report are:

  • A near-term scenario of climate change, in which the world warms 1-2°C/1.8-3.6°F over pre-industrial levels by mid-century, would pose ‘High’ to ‘Very High’ security threats. A medium-to-long term scenario in which the world warms as high as 2-4+°C/3.6-7.2°F would pose a ‘Very High’ to ‘Catastrophic’ threat to global and national security. The world has already warmed to slightly below 1°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures.
  • At all levels of warming (1-4+°C/1.8-7.2+°F), climate change will pose significant and evolving threats to global security environments, infrastructure, and institutions.
  • While at lower warming thresholds, the most fragile parts of the world are the most at risk, all regions of the world will face serious implications. High warming scenarios could bring about catastrophic security impacts across the globe.
  • These threats could come about rapidly, destabilizing the regions and relationships on which U.S. and international security depend.
  • Climate change will present significant threats to U.S. military missions across all of its geographic areas of responsibility (AORs), as well as to regional security institutions and infrastructure that are critical for maintaining global security.

The report is broken down by the regions in the world that have central commands:

• U.S. African Command (AFRICOM): Africa
• U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM): Middle East and Central Asia
• U.S. European Command (EUCOM): Europe and Russia
• U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM): Indo-Asia-Pacific
• U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM): North American and the Polar Regions
• U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM): South and Central America and Caribbean

The breakdown reflects the strategic threats to the US posed by climate change, not the most useful framework for analyzing climate change. But it identifies the major changes that climate change will force: food, water, and resources stress; extreme weather; sea level rise; migration; health; and state fragility and conflict. The conclusions of the report are straigtforward but unlikely to be implemented under the current Administration:

“Mitigating these risks requires quickly reducing and phasing out global greenhouse gas emissions. As there are numerous policy options for doing so, we refrain from recommending a single course of action. Instead, we call for the world to achieve net-zero global emissions in a manner that is ambitious, safe, equitable, and well-governed.

The world must also rapidly build resilience to the impacts of climate change that we are already experiencing, by “climate-proofing” infrastructure, institutions, and systems on which human security depends. With future oriented investments in adaptation, disaster response, and peacebuilding efforts, we will be better able to recover
from tragedies that strike and to contain effects from spiraling downward into deeper instability.

It is possible to prevent the worst of the scenarios laid out in this report, but this will not happen without clearsighted, dedicated leadership. In the United States, we call for renewed efforts to prioritize, communicate, and respond to climate security threats, and to integrate these considerations across all security considerations.

It is difficult for me to think that even this tight link between climate change and national security will have any effect on the policies of the current administration in the US.

Posted February 24, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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