Security Experts Travel to Copenhagen to Call For Action
On the penultimate day of climate negotiations, security experts from around the world gathered in Copenhagen to make the security case for action on climate change. The participants from Bangladesh, UK, Brussels, Canada and the U.S. explained that failure to change global emissions trajectories would lead to increased strain on natural resources necessary to sustain life, resulting in mass migration and higher likelihood of conflict.
The military leaders amongst the group, Major General Munirazzaman of Bangladesh and Brigadier General Wendell C. King of the Unites States are signatories to a joint statement by military leaders that states, “incremental, and at times, abrupt, climate change is resulting in an unprecedented scale of human misery, loss of biodiversity and damage to infrastructure with consequential security implications that need to be addressed urgently.” The signatories from 5 continents call on Parties to agree an “ambitious and equitable” international agreement here in Copenhagen.
Highlighting the risks associated with failure, the statement notes that signatories are motivated by their belief “that if the COP15 fails to deliver an effective and institutionally robust climate protection system, preserving security and stability even at current levels will become increasingly difficult”
The security threats associated with climate change impacts have been described in numerous reports by government agencies and security think tanks. They find that reduced access to natural resources due to climate change impacts will act as a threat multiplier in unstable regions and add tensions even in stable regions.
Participants in the event detailed different scenarios for how climate change already is, and will increasingly impact human security and proposed policy responses to ensure governments are preparing for the full range of potential climate impacts.
“Critical energy infrastructure, including nuclear power plants in France, off-shore oil and gas platforms in the U.S. Gulf Coast and hydroelectric installations in India, is already experiencing major disruptions in output as a result of a changing environment”, said Cleo Paskal, Associate at Chatham House in London and author of Global Warring. “If we are seeing the problems now, and in some of the worlds best protected and designed installations. It’s hard to imagine the challenges of a 2°C world.”
“Without a strong agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions the global security environment will rapidly deteriorate,” said Nick Mabey Chief Executive of E3G and former senior advisor in the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. “There are no hard security solutions to climate change, but there will be hard security consequences. The security community must convey the urgency of delivering a robust and ambitious climate agreement, or it will be forced to deal with the consequences.”
“The scale of climate induced human displacement will be massive in Bangladesh,” said Major General (ret) Munirazzaman, President of Bangladesh Institute for Peace and Security Studies. “It is estimated that one meter rise in sea level will flood 18% of Bangladesh territory, creating a climate refugee population of around 30 million. This will result in trans-boundary mass migration that will soon destabilize the country and the region, it will probably end up in border tension and inter-state conflict in South Asia.”
Notes to Editors:
1. E3G is an independent, non-profit European organisation operating in the public interest to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development.
2. Full text of the Military Advisory Council Statement can be found on the web site for Institute for Environmental Security
3. For further information please contact Katherine Silverthorne, E3G’s Programme Leader on US Climate Change at +1 202 744-5143.