Climate change a global security threat, warn senior military officials

global security threat

Military officials have warned that climate change poses a threat to global security. Creative Commons: The US Army, 2008

Climate change and extreme weather represent huge threats to countries’ national security, senior military officials have warned.

As the UK military assesses potential threats to its own bases, both at home and abroad, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti has warned UK leaders they can no longer afford to ignore the risks posed by climate change.

Risk experts in Germany’s army have echoed his words, warning that climate change should be treated as a foreign policy issue rather than an environmental one.

Climate change transcends borders and countries cannot “pull up the drawbridge” to stop the impacts of extreme weather, according to Morisetti.

He said:

We live in a globalised world where you can’t pull up the drawbridge in Dover, or in the Med. The reality is that what we’ve seen…the impacts of events being felt thousands of miles away.

Recent flooding in the UK washed away train lines, partially submerged over 5,800 homes and knocked out  power lines.

These offered the country timely reminders about the impacts of climate change close to home, but as a significant importer of food and gas, the country is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on global supply chains.

Rising emissions threaten the “destabilisation of entire regions of the world” and such threats won’t stop at borders.

Leading figures are waking up to the security risks of climate change.

Morisetti joins a growing chorus of senior military officials warning that climate change poses a very real international security threat.

Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry also wade into the debate, labelling climate change the “world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction” while last month UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon likened it to “an armed group bent on plunder”.

Now is the time for ambitious climate action.

Morisetti warned:

The issue of addressing climate change is a risk management exercise. The judgement today based on evidence is that at 2C we can manage the risks posed, and develop a society that is resilient enough to manage those risks and exploit the opportunities through low carbon clean tech.

European governments debating their climate and energy policies for the next 15 years and world governments working towards a new global climate treaty in 2015 face increasing pressure to support tough climate targets.

Failure to do so would leave the world without the “necessary resilience” to tackle climate risk.

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