1. Background
  2. Environment & Energy, Peacebuilding

The Link Between Climate and Conflict

February 10, 2015


The Pentagon is preparing for a world remade by climate change. The agency’s “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” clearly lays out the connection between climate and national security. It argues that climate change adds to the burdens of already fragile and weak states, creating an environment ripe for political dissent and instability.

The threats that climate change pose cannot be solved through traditional military approaches.

The threats that climate change pose, however, cannot be solved through traditional military approaches. They require nations to work together to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt to this new world.

The global community — and particularly top carbon emitters such as the United States — must make substantial reductions in carbon emissions. There is an opportunity to do just that come Paris 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Last September, hundreds of thousands of people (among them many FCNL staff and friends) marched in New York City in support of such a climate deal.

But a global agreement to reduce emissions can only be part of the solution. Today, more than 4.5 billion people live in countries predisposed to high or extreme climate risk — and they will feel those effects, even if we were to cut our emissions to zero today.

Nations need to adapt, preparing for a more hostile and variable climate.

Nations also need to adapt, preparing for a more hostile and variable climate. Severe weather events, decreased water availability and shifting growing seasons are a few of the eventualities for which we and others need to prepare. Assistance is most needed in developing countries, many of which will feel climate change’s effects first and yet have contributed least to anthropogenic climate change.

In December 2014, the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund, designed to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices, met its initial goal of $10 billion, with pledges received from 24 countries. The U.S. pledged $3 billion over four years to the fund. We are encouraged by this progress and are working to persuade Congress to follow through on this commitment.

Securing justice for those most vulnerable to climate change is vital for global and national security. It’s also necessary to live in right relation with others in our global community.