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The Global Security Implications of Climate Change

70 specialists meet at the European Commission to discuss the threats associated with climate change
31 May 2010

The Global Security Implications of Climate Change - ImageOn 28 May 2010, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) organised a meeting on ?The Global Security Implications of Climate Change? within the framework of its ?Transatlantic Dialogue on Climate Change and Security? at the European Commission in Brussels. The meeting, attended by around 70 people, also featured several IES representatives including Wouter Veening, Bernard Snoy and G?raud de Ville.

The opening session featured Ms Laurence Graff from DG Climate Action who shared her observations on the UNFCCC negotiations. Responding to the many concerns following the failure of Copenhagen to effectively address climate change, she insisted that Europe should continue to push for an international agreement but that in any case ?at the end of the day, we need domestic policies?. Ms Graff ended her talk saying she that was slightly more optimistic than some of her colleagues since many countries are now working hard on domestic policies.

The meeting then focused on energy security (First Session), water security and food security (Second Session). Andrew Holland proposed an overview of the conclusions of a 16 March IISS Workshop on Climate Change & Energy Security. The meeting illustrated a number of systemic threats associated with oil dependence. Among the proposed solutions, participants of the 16 March 2010 meeting highlighted the need for diversification of energy sources and the development of renewable energy. His presentation was followed by an analysis of Dr Cho Khong from Shell International who raised some interesting figures on the future of energy demand and supply. The Second Session, with presentations from Rachel Posner (Center for Strategic and International Studies), Anton Earle (Stockholm International Water Institute) and Sir Gordon Conway (Imperial College London) highlighted the interdependencies of food, water and energy security and the need to recognise this link in any proposed solution.

The afternoon sessions focused on the link between climate change and conflict with presentations from Lt Col Ian Astley (UK Ministry of Defence), Jeffrey Mazo (IISS), Cleo Paskal (Chatham House) and Jamie Shea (NATO). The speakers reiterated the fact that climate change will amplify existing causes of tensions and might trigger ?tipping points? that will make conflict more likely. Paskal proposed some geopolitical observations of climate-induced changes with specific foci on China, the Pacific States and the Arctic. In the last session, Jamie Shea explained that although NATO?s new Strategic Concept does not give prominent place to climate change as a threat, some people are trying to advocate it within NATO. Shea concluded that the climate change response needs a comprehensive approach and that NATO can be part of a wider solution.

To wrap up the meeting, IISS Director on Transnational Threats and Political Risk Nigel Inkster thanked the participants and explained that IISS will keep working on these issues in the future.

IISS website | Climate Change and International Security Programme

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