On June 1, the American Security Project (ASP) hosted the launching event for the North-Atlantic Civil-Society Working-Group on Environment and Security’s (NCWES) new report – “Sustainable Peace & Security in a Changing Climate: Recommendations for NATO 2030.” Participants included members of the EDRC and contributors: Ron Kingham; Jamie Shea; Alexander Verbeek; Olivia Lazard; the Hon. Alice Hill; and, ASP’s president, BGen. Stephen A. Cheney. The event also included RADM Neil Morisetti and Michael Rühle, Head of Hybrid Challenges & Energy Security Section, NATO Emerging Security Challenges Division.
The report and NCWES are initiatives of the Brussels Dialogue on Climate Diplomacy, which is coordinated by the Environment & Development Resource Center.
The report contains 116 policy recommendations to be considered during the NATO 2030 process to strengthen NATO as new environmental-related challenges emerge and promote sustainable peace and security. The launch of the report was organized ahead of World Environment Day (June 5) and the NATO Summit of Allied Leaders (June 14).
Ron Kingham, co-founder and director of EDRC, began the event by introducing the panelists and guest speakers. He emphasized the work and collaboration that went into producing the report. Jamie Shae, who wrote the foreword, then presented the outline of the report. He discussed the aim and purpose of the report, noting that the work completed by the authors should not only tick a box, but build momentum and illustrate civil society’s dedication to climate change action. During this time, Shae also spoke about NATO’s current role in a climate change-affected world and its potential role moving forward.
Alexander Verbeek then introduced the attending panelists and moderated the discussion.
Olivia Lazard, the lead author and co-editor, described the focus of the report as the security implications of not only climate change, but other broader environmental security issues, such as loss of biodiversity. She emphasized the idea of ‘scarcification,’ which refers to the growing resource scarcity and its accompanied security threats.
Alice Hill was asked about the importance of resilience in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Hill used military installations, such as the military base in Norfolk, as examples of threats to infrastructure and the need for resilient adaptation plans.
Stephen Cheney discussed the importance of finance and budgets in climate change mitigation and adaptation policy. Using US climate policy over the last half-decade as an example, Cheney illustrated the international importance of changes in domestic policy direction and clear funding pathways. He highlighted the likeliness of NATO’s budget tightening as threats emerge, which increase the need for a clear understanding of funding sources and budgets.
“All countries need to recognize where climate funding is coming from, whether it’s mitigation adaptation, or it’s a combination of both.” – BGen. Stephen Cheney.
Speaking again, Lazard explained how, moving forward, the international community should look at the geopolitical consequences of climate change responses. As ‘scarcification’ increases, geopolitics will focus more on trade-offs, making it important to support nations as they transition and prevent the undermining of these changes. She also mentioned the necessity of geopolitical competition for resources as nations transition economically and to renewable energy.
Stephen Cheney considered the room for change in military education, noting the lack of climate change discussions. He mentioned the role the military plays in carbon emissions and the need for research and development of renewable energy sources in war.
Finally, Alice Hill was asked her opinion of the future of US climate change policy. She delineated the sharp divide in public opinion on climate change both between political parties and generations. This divide is reflected in the elected officials and the divide seen in Congress.
Doug Weier, Ashley McIlvain Moran, and Georgios Kostakos, authors of the report, were asked a series of questions related to particular sections of the report, including military contributions to greenhouse gases, the West Africa region and Macronesia’s environmental threats and political atmosphere, and NATO coordinated action to disasters around the world.
Finally, Neil Moresetti and Michael Rühle held a conversation regarding the role of civil society and the importance of states in NATO policymaking. Moresetti and Rühle both mention the importance of reaching individual states in order to influence NATO policy and how NATO and member nations can actually learn from each other on what policies do and do not work.
The full report can be read on the EDRC Website.
Additional Resources from the American Security Project: