By Evan Barnard
In this second episode exploring the 2021 World Climate and Security Report, Evan Barnard, a research fellow at the Center for Climate and Security, discusses the current state and prescience of climate security risks with Kate Guy. Ms. Guy is a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an Institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, where she also serves as Deputy Director of the International Military Council on Climate and Security. She was the lead author of the seminal 2020 CCS report, A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change, and has contributed to numerous other climate security research projects, including the 2021 World Climate and Security Report. She is currently pursuing a doctorate on climate change and global security at the University of Oxford.
This podcast episode takes a deep dive into the expert survey section of the 2021 World Climate and Security Report published this summer by the International Military Council on Climate and Security. This survey, now in its second year, represents an important barometer for determining climate security priorities, because the research field of climate security is still relatively young and the expert practitioner perspective uniquely highlights what practitioners consider the most pressing and prescient issues.
According to the survey, experts in the climate-security intersection deem all climate security threats to have at least a moderate level of risk to society, and even one decade out, many of the same threats could be at a high or potentially catastrophic level of risk. Risks assessed are expected to grow if not accelerate in severity over the next ten to twenty years. Ms. Guy found that experts believe the biggest climate security risks do not just threaten military operations but also society at large. Water security risks were the most interconnected risks, with cascading effects on other aspects of human and national security.
Based on the survey results, Ms. Guy suggests taking serious mitigation as well as adaptation efforts now. “We’re not just safe if we build toward the resilience of today,” says Ms. Guy. “We need to be building, and understanding, and putting ourselves in the shoes of humans 20 years down the road and the risks they’ll be facing.” The decisions of human societies made up to the present will most likely mean the next twenty years will be grim for climate security risks. “We need to be incorporating that understanding if we’re going to save lives and ensure security.”