NEGOTIATIONS: Warming’s impact on global security a critical issue for Paris talks, experts say

 

Here is another report of the panel I spoke on at the Atlantic Council event Climate Security: The Next ‘Battle Ground’? on June 17, 2015 in Washington DC.

 

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NEGOTIATIONS:  Warming’s impact on global security a critical issue for Paris talks, experts say

Brittany Patterson, E&E reporter

Published: Thursday, June 18, 2015

 

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The major impact climate change will have on global security is one of the key issues that unite the world and will be immensely important during the U.N. climate negotiations to be held in Paris at the end of this year, said Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United States.

“The climate has always posed threats to security,” Araud said speaking at an Atlantic Council event yesterday on climate security and the Paris talks. “Climate disruptions upset the full range of economic and social equilibrium and therefore threatens countries’ internal security.”

Araud cited examples of climate-related maladies that spanned the globe, including the social unrest and deployment of troops in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the fight for water resources between Egypt and Sudan. He also mentioned the terrible weather of 1788 that sparked a food crisis in France and contributed to the start of the French Revolution, although it wasn’t the doing of climate change specifically.

Climate change poses both a human security and a national security issue, added former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Sharon Burke.

Although climate change is not directly a military issue, she said the well-funded, trained and oiled machine that is a country’s military has a role to play via the way it does business.

Through purchasing of clean energy and pushing technology forward, the U.S. military has made strides, but the United States still has work to do in thinking about the bigger picture in terms of how the world will physically change and the likely increases in humanitarian aid missions the military will be called upon to do, according to Burke.

‘States rot from their cities’

Across Europe, there are huge political implications of a changing climate, especially with regard to the migration of climate refugees, said Tom Burke, founding director and chairman of E3G — Third Generation Environmentalism.

For example, as instability drives half-a-million people to seek shelter in Europe, citizens are responding by voting for populist candidates, a move Russian President Vladimir Putin can use to his advantage, Burke said.

“States rot from their cities,” he said. “If you don’t maintain water, food and energy security, you are not able to keep order.”

Looking forward to the Paris conference, Araud said he was heartened by the mobilization of not just countries, but states, cities and businesses that see not just the security implications of a changing climate but the economic value that creating a low-carbon society will have.

Burke added that in countries without structured grid systems, creating a renewable energy system is a great opportunity to connect countries through building a distributed power system.

Expanding our definition of national security and reaching out to cities and states that are already adapting against climate change will be key to moving forward, even if Paris fails to produce a meaningful agreement.

The challenge, Araud added, will be leaving Paris with a common agreement, while recognizing that each country’s goals for getting there will be different.

 

 

 

About tomburke

Tom Burke is the Chairman of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism, and an Environmental Policy Adviser (part time) to Rio Tinto plc. He is a Visiting Professor at both Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a member of the External Review Committee of Shell and the Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board of Unilever and a Trustee of the Black-E Community Arts Project, Liverpool.
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