What does a warmer world mean for European security? This policy brief first provides an overview of some key challenges facing European policy makers as they seek to take action against climate risks. It then analyses some of the programmes and mechanisms already in place across the Union. Finally, it sets out some practical recommendations on how European institutions can respond to the global security risks of a changing climate.
Climate change as a security risk for the EU
As recognised in the 2016 EU Global Strategy, managing climate change risk is essential to Europe’s security and prosperity. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that a continual rise in greenhouse gas emissions is projected to further warm the planet, increase the frequency and impact of extreme weather events, and cause longlasting climactic changes, threatening severe and irreversible consequences for people and ecosystems. These changes will have significant political, economic, and social impacts by undermining the pillars of stability: food, water and other resources.
The World Bank estimates that by 2025, 2.4 billion people will face absolute water scarcity. In 2012, Oxfam estimated that the average price of staple foods such as maize could more than double by 2030. These stressors are in turn likely to disrupt the lives of millions of people, leading to local resource conflicts and higher rates of migration. European citizens are increasingly aware of these impacts and have begun to rank climate change as one of the biggest threats facing their countries and the continent.
Download full briefing paper The EU and Climate Security (112 KB)
The authors would particularly like to thank the speakers and participants in the EU Working Group that convened during the Planetary Security Conference on 6 December 2016 in The Hague. The content of the brief represents the views of the authors and not necessarily those of their organisations.
This paper was originally published by Planetary Security Initiative