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Report: NATO and Climate Change: Towards a Joint Understanding and Response

Climate change effects on security have become an increasingly important topic in international politics. Over the past decades different states across the Euro-Atlantic region have adopted a range of national policies or strategies to deal with the effects of climate change on their security, reflecting that climate change has firmly established itself on the political agenda. At the same time, the EU has commissioned its member states to adopt strategies and plans to manage the effects of climate change through its 2022 Strategic Compass, and NATO has – since its 2021 Climate Change and Security Action Plan, as well as the 2022 Strategic Concept – set out to manage the effects of climate change on its range of tasks. This suggests that states do not see a choice between preparing for climate change and security, rather states have come to consider the effects of climate change on their security as an integral part of defence planning and capability development. 

Yet, as this report shows, different states have different approaches to climate change and security. It suggests that some states still consider climate change effects on security of less importance than traditional considerations, or perhaps that some states believe that adapting their war fighting abilities to the effects of climate change is detracting from their primary responsibilities of protecting and defending the state. 

This report proceeds in four parts. The first part lays out what climate change and climate security are. The second part briefly explains the evolution of NATO’s turn toward climate awareness. The third part is the bulk of the analysis of how NATO states are approaching climate change effects on security, identifying commonalities and differences in their approaches and priorities. The fourth section explores how the allies see the impact of climate change on the current international frameworks that are protecting humanity. The report ends with some concluding observations and recommendations on how to move NATO policies forward in this area. 

This report is part of BASIC’s Risk Reduction project on ‘Adapting and Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on Security’, generously funded by the Government of Canada’s Department of National Defence via the Targeted Engagement Grant.

Read the report below: 

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