• GlobalGovernance10

The EU and Climate Security By Taylor Dimsdalor and Gerald Stang* Excerpt from Clingendael Policy B

Atualizado: 25 de Out de 2019



The EU’s 2016 Global Strategy states that “Climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate potential conflict, in light of their impact on desertification, land degradation, and water and food scarcity”. The Strategy considers climate change to be “a threat multiplier that catalyses water and food scarcity, pandemics and displacement”.

Climate change as a security risk for the EU (1)

As recognised in the 2016 EU Global Strategy, managing climate change risk is essential to Europe’s security and prosperity(2) . Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that a continual rise in greenhouse gas emissions is projected to further warm the planet, increase the frequency and impact of extreme weather events, and cause longlasting climactic changes, threatening severe and irreversible consequences for people and ecosystems. These changes will have significant political, economic, and social impacts by undermining the pillars of stability: food, water and other resources.

The World Bank estimates that by 2025, 2.4 billion people will face absolute water scarcity(3) . In 2012, Oxfam estimated that the average price of staple foods such as maize could more than double by 2030(4). These stressors are in turn likely to disrupt the lives of millions of people, leading to local resource conflicts and higher rates of migration(5). European citizens are increasingly aware of these impacts and have begun to rank climate change as one of the biggest threats facing their countries and the continent(6).

Responses Already Underway

The EU’s 2016 Global Strategy states that “Climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate potential conflict, in light of their impact on desertification, land degradation, and water and food scarcity”. The Strategy considers climate change to be “a threat multiplier that catalyses water and food scarcity, pandemics and displacement”.

Climate security challenges entered the European security discourse nearly a decade ago(7). However, with the financial crisis and the institutional changes from the Lisbon Treaty, the issue did not rise higher on agendas until the last three years as European policymakers have focused more on the security, stability and migration challenges of its neighbourhood. Building on the EU Global Strategy and climate risk statements from the European Council(8), there is greater emphasis on translating high level recognition of the problem into effective policy. It is encouraging that the EU is mainstreaming climate considerations into all relevant policy areas and plans to dedicate 20% of its 2014-20 budget (approximately €180 billion) to climate change-related action.

(1) The authors would particularly like to thank the speakers and participants in the EU Working Group that convened during the Planetary Security Conference on 6 December 2016 in The Hague. The content of the brief represents the views of the authors and not necessarily those of their organisations.

 (2) European External Action Service, “Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe - A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy,” 2016. https://europa.eu/globalstrategy/sites/globalstrategy/files/eugs_review_web.pdf 

 (3) World Bank Group, “At a glance: Water,” 2016. http://water.worldbank.org/node/84122 

(4) OXFAM “Extreme weather, extreme prices - The costs of feeding a warming world,” Oxfam Issue Briefing September 2012. https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/20120905-ib-extreme-weather-extreme-prices-en.pdf 

(5) For a detailed analysis of the range of climate security risks, see “A New Climate for Peace,” an independent report commissioned for the G7 by adelphi, International Alert, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, European Union Institute for Security Studies, 2015. https://www.newclimateforpeace.org/ 

(6) Pew Research Center, June, 2016, “Europeans Face the World Divided” http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/13/europeans-see-isis-climate-change-as-most-serious-threats/ 

(7) Notably via a joint 2008 paper from Javier Solana and the Commission EU, Climate Change and International Security, S113/08 (followed by a 2009 progress report) and via a 2008 review of the European Security Strategy which identified climate change as a threat to European security interests. 

(8) The European Council, for example, has called for the inclusion of climate vulnerability analysis into fragility/security and disasters risk assessments and for greater collaboration on the resulting risk-mitigation efforts.

The full paper is available at: https://www.e3g.org/library/the-eu-and-climate-security

Taylor Dimsdale is Head of Research at E3G. His research focusses on climate and resource security issues, energy policy related to the development of smart grids and demand side resources, international climate finance, and promoting transatlantic dialogue on climate change.

*Gerald Stang is a GG10 member, Senior Associate Analyst with the EU Institute of Security Studies, where he researches energy, climate and security challenges. He holds BSc and MSc degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Saskatchewan and an MA in international affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

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