Institute for Environmental Security
Advancing Global Environmental Security through
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Scientists, policy makers and security experts see hope for effective short-term action on climate change
26 March 2012
Despite the slow progress towards a new legally binding agreement on climate change, a diverse group of experts believe that vital action for limiting the negative impact of climate change can be achieved in the near term, if key institutions can be adapted or created to addresses the mitigation of short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) and its key role in air pollution reduction, climate protection and sustainable development.
The relative success of the climate change talks in Durban offer the world the opportunity to move beyond the discussion about funding and the modalities of mitigation. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations for a binding agreement on climate change in 2015, the world now faces several decades of abrupt climate change with intense climate events. Humanity has no choice but to shape the institutions needed to manage the consequences of climate change on international security.
The Centre for European Studies (CES) and the Institute for Environmental Security (IES) brought together over 100 participants including European parliamentarians, military officers, climate experts and civil society representatives at the European Parliament in Brussels on 21 March 2012 for an interactive discussion. The objectives were to reframe the international discourse on climate change, listen to the concerns and ideas of the security sector and to discuss the need to reform international and European institutions for responding efficiently to climate change threats.
Participants to the conference on ?Building Climate Change Institutions: The Case of Environment and Security? recognised that the debate on the sovereign debt crisis has overshadowed climate change, preventing heads of states and governments from setting ambitious targets for limiting the rise of temperature and the risk of abrupt climate change side effects. But CES President Wilfried Martens stated that despite the shift in political attention, "a recent Eurobarometer poll suggests that 89% of European citizens see climate change as a serious problem". And they are right.
The rise of temperature is already redrawing the world map. "The geopolitics, with the geoeconomics and the changing geophysics are coming together to create an entirely new environment", Chatham House Associate Fellow Cleo Paskal explained. The melting of the Arctic sea ice is opening new maritime routes, the rise in sea levels is threatening to submerge islands and coastal areas and droughts and floods are affecting river flows on which our economy is reliant. These changes, for which the system is largely unprepared, carry the seeds of instability and risk prompting dangerous conflicts for resources. In an interconnected and globalised world, Europe will not be exempted. Furthermore, the melting of the permafrost could damage Russia's oil and gas pipelines to Europe, thereby threatening its energy supply.
Traditional paradigms of security are no longer valid in the new emerging environment caused by climate change. Both military officers and parliamentarians recognised the importance of developing contingency planning to deal with the consequences of climate change such as extreme weather events and mass migration. It was argued that this could be achieved through increased civilian-military cooperation and by education. In addition, all speakers agreed that whilst the military have started to address their use of energy there is more work that can be done to decarbonise military operations. Such an approach not only improves the effectiveness of the military and protects them from future rises in the cost of fossil fuels but also significantly reduce its impact on the environment and the climate.
Despite the bad news, speakers expressed serious reasons for hope. Recent studies have shown that acting on a series of short-lived climate forcers such as Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone in parallel with the efforts of curbing our CO2 emissions could cut the rate of global warming in half and up to two thirds in the Arctic for several decades. This could be done with existing technologies and legal frameworks and at a price equalling "pennies per ton of carbon equivalent", said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. The first meeting of the new Climate and Clean Air Coalition that will take place on 24-25 April in Stockholm to deal with short-lived climate forcers will provide the first major opportunity for action.
Institutional creativity is the key to dealing with the climate crisis. Climate change institutions will need to be "much more flexible and nimble, and be able to deal with issues as they arise but also change their mandate and memberships as the problems continue to evolve", Jason Blackstock, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation, argued. The plea for institutional adaptability and continuous improvement was echoed by several speakers, adding that there is still scope for true environment diplomacy on climate change both within the EU and the UN. The next G20 was pinpointed as an important upcoming event where the EU could push things forward.
The issue of climate and security will remain high on CES and IES agendas trough their participation at several international events and the publication, in June, of a paper on Climate Change and International Security. Concluding the conference, IES Vice-Chairman Tom Spencer explained that we are hoping to achieve in the near future a larger coming together of serving and retired military officers, a place to interact and debate on these issues across differences of nationality and services to continue raising awareness and promote civilian-military cooperation on climate change issues.?
European Parliament, Brussels, 21 March 2012
2 March 2012
On 21 March 2012, the Centre for European Studies (CES) and the Institute for Environmental Security (IES) will organise a conference on "Building Climate Change Institutions: The Case of Environment and Security".
The debate about climate change has lost focus. In recent years it has become too abstract, too technical and too political. It has turned into a discussion for experts on negotiations, rather than a matter of life and death for everyone and their children.
There is good news as well as bad. If we add to our work in limiting CO2 and the greenhouse gasses a determined effort to deal with the so-called Short Lived Climate Forcers (SLCFs - black carbon, tropospheric ozone and methane), we may be able to buy ten years in which to keep our warming planet beneath the 2? Centigrade target we have all adopted, as suggested in a recent UNEP report.
In announcing the conference, IES Vice-Chair, Tom Spencer said that ?For too long the relationship between climate change and security has been an orphan debate, hovering on the fringe of the climate negotiations. We believe that it now fully deserves its own institutions, both formal and informal. These need to be put in place by 2015 to meet the timetable set in Durban. This will only happen if Europe, with its record of leadership in climate change, pushes for a new burst of creative institution building?.
The conference on 21st March is being organised in advance of the UK government conference in London on ?A climate and resource security dialogue for the 21st Century? - 22-23 March - and our conference will also provide an opportunity for you and other experts to provide input to the 2012 Security Jam - the online debate organised by the EU, NATO and several leading think-tanks from 19th to 23rd March bringing together thousands of participants from around the world to find concrete solutions to global security issues.
IES Report for the European Space Agency
12 December 2011
12 Dec 2011 - The IES today published its report for the European Space Agency on ?Recent Trends in EU External Action in the Fields of Climate, Environment, Development and Security?. The 180 page report was prepared at the request of the ESA in order to provide information on the latest developments in EU external action in a dozen key policy areas related to environmental security plus special sections on Africa and the Arctic.
The report should serve as a guide to ongoing institutional and policy developments in EU external action as well a useful handbook for the ESA and others who wish to increase the effectiveness of their interaction with the EU in the fields of climate change, environment, development and security.
IES Report Presents Model for Corporate Social Responsibility Grievance Mechanisms
31 October 2011
Within the programme on Hague Utilities for Global Organisations (HUGO) IES research assistant, Cristina Cedillo (photo) recently prepared a report entitled ?Better Access to Remedy in Company-?Community Conflicts in the field of CSR: A Model for Company ? Based Grievance Mechanisms?. The report finalised in September is now available on the IES website.
The HUGO project was launched in 2010 by the World Legal Forum foundation and others including the IES. The project is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and the Municipality of The Hague. It aims at facilitating various forms of international dispute management in The Hague ? among others in the field of corporate social responsibility and complex financial products -, in particular by establishing or expanding in The Hague one or more institutions for international dispute management.
The IES is involved in the part of the project which focuses on international dispute management related to corporate social responsibility (especially with regard to human rights, labour and the environment). In particular, IES with its partner Bronkhorst International Legal Services (BILS) works to secure the environmental and institutional aspects of a conflict management facility on CSR which is to be established by the end of 2012. In addition, IES and BILS drafted a position paper presenting the various aspects to be taken into account to successfully establish a conflict management facility on CSR. The paper by Cristina Cedillo provides a model for company-based grievance mechanisms to be used by companies operating abroad. Also, IES and BILS assist the World Legal Forum foundation in securing stakeholder support which is the most essential success factor for the conflict management facility on CSR.
17 October 2011
On 17 October, IES Vice-Chairman, Tom Spencer spoke at the conference in London on the health and security perspectives of climate change.
Climate change is the greatest current threat to public health. This is the view shared by Dr Margaret Chan, director general of WHO, and a growing number of the world?s health professionals. Less well known is the view of leading military experts ? those working to prevent and manage conflicts around the world: that climate change is also the greatest future threat to security.
Delegates at the conference heard from leading experts in health, security, economics, and business. Key note speakers, panellists, and discussants will explore the extent and nature of the threat that climate change poses to health and security.