Climate change threatens international security and its risks should be assessed the same way as those of nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorism, according to a new study by experts from the UK, China, India and the US.
The risk of severe climate change impacts, such as extreme temperatures causing human fatalities, will continue to grow unless emissions are brought “close to zero”, it states.
UK Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said:
When we think about keeping our country safe, we always consider the worst case scenarios. That is what guides our policies on nuclear non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, and conflict prevention. We have to think about climate change the same way. Unlike those more familiar risks, the risks of climate change will increase continually over time – until we have entirely eliminated their cause. To manage these risks successfully, it is essential that we take a long-term view, and that we act in the present, with urgency.
In the stark assessment of the wide-ranging dangers posed by unchecked climate change, the authors warned of threats including huge risks to global food security, including a tripling of food prices, unprecedented migration, increased risks of terrorism as stats fail and lethal heat and its impacts on public health.
The report warns that existing plans to curb carbon emissions do not go far enough, and that predicted levels of climate change could see the world pass tipping points “beyond which the inconvenient may become intolerable,” calling for emissions to be brought “close to zero”.
And while today’s report shows that stronger emissions reduction efforts from governments and more innovation in renewables and energy systems are key to reducing risk, another study highlight the massive net benefits of timely action on climate change.
Tackling climate change now will not only reduce risk but bring better health and cleaner air, but investments in renewables are likely to be more than paid back by the falling costs of solar and wind, and by reduced spending on fossil fuels, the report from the London School of Economics states.
With further confirmation today that the economic benefits of tackling climate change easily outweigh the costs, and a report last week confirming that economies can grow while carbon emissions shrink, the case for governments to act to avoid ‘intolerable’ climate change impacts and reap the benefits could not be clearer.
Indeed, not acting is quite simply not a viable option.