Response to climate security threats ‘slow and inadequate’

LONDON (AFP) – The international response to security threats posed by climate change has been “slow and inadequate”, according to a report published Wednesday.

According to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank, a failure to adequately prepare for this is on a par with neglecting the risks of nuclear weapons proliferation or terrorism.

“In the next decades, climate change will drive as significant a change in the strategic security environment as the end of the Cold War,” Nick Mabey, the author of the report titled “Delivering Climate Security: International Security Responses to a Climate Changed World”, said in a statement.

“If uncontrolled, climate change will have security implications of similar magnitude to the World Wars, but which will last for centuries.”

The report said that concerns over climate security would lead to “fundamental changes” in the international geo-political landscape, would force countries to radically rethink their national interests, and alter how international relations were conducted.

Mabey said that, for example, Britain’s energy and climate security would “increasingly depend on stronger alliances with other large energy consumers, such as China … and less on relations with oil producing states.”

He also recommended a “more pro-active and intensive approach to tackling instability in strategically important regions with high climate vulnerability and weak governance.”

“The first signs of this response are emerging, but the necessary changes will need to happen much faster than in the past,” Mabey said.

RUSI called for increased investment to reduce “hard security threats” posed by climate change, raising government spending on the issue to the amount Britain currently spends on counter-terrorism.

The think tank warned, however, that if the issue was left by the wayside for too long and an emergency response were needed, spending would be required on a scale comparable to NASA’s Apollo space programme.

“If climate change is not slowed and critical environmental thresholds are exceeded, then it will become a primary driver of conflicts between and within states,” the report said.

It said that the security sector would have to “pro-actively support efforts to radically reduce carbon emissions now as a means of avoiding the ‘worst case scenario’ security implications.”