An EU agenda for climate security

(EurActiv, 28 Aug 2019) Responding to the unprecedented challenge posed by climate change will require all actors – including the defence and security community – to step outside their comfort zone, writes Luca Bergamaschi.

Luca Bergamaschi is Senior Associate at the climate change think tank E3G. He is also Research Associate at the Istituto Affari Internazionali and former G7/G20 Advisor to the Italian Prime Minister’s Office.

The upcoming informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers couldn’t come at a better time to discuss the most pressing issue of our time: climate security. The burning Amazon, the fast melting of both Greenland and West Antarctica and the Arctic fires in Siberia are ticking climatic bombs, posing an unprecedented threat to European security that could fundamentally change life on earth as we know it.

The latest science is unequivocal, we are approaching the limits of the planet faster than previously thought. Without deep and rapid change, an unprecedented level of material disruption is expected in Europe throughout this century. Annual damages from coastal floods could be as high as €1 trillion per year affecting over 3.5 million people, drought-hit cropland could increase seven-fold, agricultural yields could decline by up to 20%, land burnt by forest fires could double and almost one in two Europeans could be affected by water scarcity.

There are also second and third order effects that could destabilise European politics such as increased migration flows, the potential of new conflicts, food shocks, trade disruptions and the catastrophic consequences of breaching climate “tipping points”, the Amazon forest being one of them. This is the area of forest clearing beyond which the Amazon is no longer able to sustain itself. With 20% of the forest now cleared, scientists suggest that it is safer to assume that Brazil is close to it.

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EurActiv, 28 Aug 2019: An EU agenda for climate security