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The Global Security and Defense Index on Climate Change - Preliminary Results


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The American Security Project releases the preliminary results of a new resource on climate change and national security: The Global Security and Defense Index on Climate Change.

The Index analyzes how governments around the world and their militaries plan for and anticipate the strategic threats of climate change.

The project determines to what extent governments around the world consider climate change to be a national or international security threat and how have they enshrined such a concern in their official documents and statements. The project will centralize the varying attitudes of national militaries and security establishments toward climate change in the hopes of providing unique insight into national, regional, and multilateral security approaches to the issue.

The results show that over 70% of the nations in the world view climate change as a serious national security issue.

The armed forces of a variety of countries share this view, with players as surprisingly disparate as China, Kiribati, Rwanda, and Belarus all in agreement on the threat climate change poses. Western, eastern, rich or poor, the consensus on the climate threat seems easily apparent.

The preliminary results of the Defense Index are being released in both Washington D.C. and Seoul, South Korea at the Climate Security Conference in the Asia-Pacific Region to a high level group of ministers and experts.

Going forward, the Index will be published on line so that any one in the world can read and debate how to take this series national security issue forward.

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The Global Security and Defense Index on Climate Change - Preliminary Results

  1. 1. What is the Project?The Index• Do governments see climate change as a threat to their national security?• How are militaries and national security planners anticipating climate change?
  2. 2. What is the Project?Source Material:• Open Source, widely available information• Where they exist, it includes Ministry of Defense and/or military planning documents • Defense white papers, Defense Reviews, National Security Strategies, etc.• Official statements and speeches from Heads of State or Government, Ministers of Defense
  3. 3. The Preliminary Results
  4. 4. The Preliminary Results• Climate Change is a National Security Threat – 110 out of 155* - 71% of countries• Climate Change as an Environmental Concern – 33/155* - 21% of countries• Climate Change is not a defined Concern – 13/155* - 8% of countries• No Information Available – 41/196* - 21% of countries *for which information is available
  5. 5. Regional Results: Central Asia• Climate affects water supplies – and therefore is a transboundary issue – Turkmenistan: National Climate Strategy “aims to identify and assess the threats to development and security of Turkmenistan owing to climate change, including threats to economy, infrastructure, water management, public life and health.” – Kazakhstan: UN Special Representative: “effects [of climate change] seriously threatened human security.”
  6. 6. Regional Results: East Asia• Climate change identified as threat to security.• Usually listed among ‘non-traditional’ national security threats as potential causes of conflict. – Japan: “climate change could also constitute a cause of conflict” – China: climate change a “security threat” along with other non-traditional threats – South Korea: “a growing trend in the occurrence of large-scale typhoons, downpours, snowstorms and other natural disasters due to climate change”
  7. 7. Regional Results: Europe• Climate change is actively integrated into most national security strategies.• A divide between local and global concerns. – Finland: “climate change shall be taken into account in land use planning and other activities related to zoning as well as in training” – Germany: climate change can lead to “State failure and uncontrolled migration” which can “have a lasting, negative effect on international security.”
  8. 8. Regional Results: Middle East and North Africa• Agnostic about the threat of climate to security – on 5/19 see it as a threat• Opposition to ‘securitization’ of an environmental issue – Turkey: “Climate change posed a severe risk to political and social stability, especially in overpopulated and underdeveloped regions.” – Egypt: “Climate change and its adverse impacts had to be addressed from the perspective of sustainable development.”
  9. 9. Regional Results: North America• The governments of Canada and the United States strongly link climate change to security.• Canada sees it a development problem, while the U.S. sees it through conflict. – United States: “climate change is an accelerant of instability or conflict”
  10. 10. Regional Results: Southeast Asia and Oceania• Pacific Island States vocal about existential threat of sea level rise• Larger regional militaries preparing for disaster response and conflict prevention throughout the Pacific – Kiribati: “Rising sea levels…are consuming our tiny islets” – Australia: “increase in frequency and severity of natural disasters…may contribute to instability and tension around the globe, especially in fragile states.”
  11. 11. Regional Results: South Asia• Climate is viewed as a clear threat to national security by all except India.• Pakistan a leader in UN Security Council consideration of the threat of climate change, while India opposes – Bangladesh: “Climate change-induced food insecurity, the uprooting of populations and related adversity threatened international peace and security.”
  12. 12. Regional Results: Sub-Saharan Africa• 45 countries, split almost evenly into three parts, between climate as a security threat, as an environmental issue, and those for whom no information is available. – Rwanda: “Most conflicts in Africa are caused or triggered by environmental issues.” – Kenya: "The requirements of security today also embrace environmental protection since anything that degrades the quality of life impacts on security of the people.”
  13. 13. Regional Results: Latin America and Caribbean• Caribbean and Central American fear climate change poses an existential threat.• Larger countries of South America oppose ‘securitization’ of climate change and see it as a domestic environmental issue. – St. Vincent and the Grenadines: “The islands of our planet are at war against climate change, warming temperatures and rising seas.” – Brazil: “The possible security implications of climate change were far less obvious, as environmental impacts did not threaten international peace and security on their own.”
  14. 14. Next Steps: Taking the Index Forward• Currently, the Index only exists as an internal document within ASP. – Link to its results on our website, with a ‘clickable’ map – This will allow all around the world to click on their country to learn how their governments has identified the threats of climate change• We will define in more detail which part of each nation’s government identifies the threat of climate change• Importantly, this index will be a ‘living document’ that will be continuously updated as governments update their policies and positions over time.