On 7 June 2021, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released its second annual World Climate and Security Report (WCSR), 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 was released during an online seminar featuring 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 is timed ahead of the G7 and NATO Summits 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 defence, 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.”

The IMCCS Secretary General, the Honorable Sherri Goodman, former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defence and now Senior Strategist at the Center for Climate and Security, stated: “Major and urgent global emissions reductions are necessary in order to avoid significant, severe or catastrophic global security consequences in the future. We also need to climate-proof all elements of security – including infrastructure, institutions and policies. While a great deal of analysis and planning has been done on the importance and potential of integrating the climate security nexus into development, diplomacy and defence activities, the actual number of implemented measures is small. The transition from concepts of climate security to implementation is critical and urgently needed.”

Erin Sikorsky, Director of the IMCCS, Deputy Director of the Center for Climate and Security and former Deputy Director of the Strategic Futures Group of the US National Intelligence Council, stated: “From the White House, to the UN Security Council, to Brussels, world leaders are raising the alarm about the security risks posed by climate change. But you don’t have to take policymakers’ word for it – from the shores of Central America, to the drylands of East Africa, to the Gulf Coast of the United States, climate hazards are already reshaping the security environment around the globe. The question now is what concrete action can defence and security services take to prepare for and prevent these risks? The World Climate Security Report 2021 helps answer this question, with new tools to evaluate risks and climate security practices.”

François Bausch, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, stated: “Climate change has been part of the security agendas of the EU and NATO for several years, but, in practice, it has only been dealt with on the sidelines. We should therefore take advantage of the currently ongoing reflection processes at NATO and EU to ensure that the rising risks and threats related to climate change are fully reflected in NATO’s updated Strategic Concept and the EU’s Strategic Compass. As the world looks to the Climate COP this November, we should capitalize on the global momentum of this climate summit and lead strong climate security action in the months ahead. Such action includes significantly increasing investments into research and development for carbon neutral fuels and propulsion systems for military aircraft, ships and other vehicles. Climate security leadership also includes systematically mapping our emissions in order to address the lack of data on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the Defence sector. Based on such data, we should consider the setting of voluntary targets to reduce the carbon emissions of militaries in the framework of a ‘Global Climate and Security Pledge’, which we could officially announce at the COP-26.”

Read the World Climate and Security Report 2021 at the IMCCS website and here https://imccs.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/World-Climate-and-Security-Report-2021.pdf.

Who: 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 the Planetary Security Initiative of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael).

Released by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Directorate of Defence

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