The Converging Risks Lab (CRL) is a research and policy development-oriented program designed to study converging, cross-sectoral risks in a rapidly-changing world. The CRL will bring together experts from within the CSR’s distinct institutes, and from multiple sectors of the security community, to ask forward-thinking questions about these converging risks, and to develop anticipatory solutions.
The Climate-Nuclear-Security Project
The Climate-Nuclear-Security Project (CNSP) is the first project of the CRL, bringing together the experience and expertise housed within the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and the Center on Strategic Weapons (CSW), as well as the broader climate security and nuclear security policy communities. The CNSP recognizes that climate and nuclear risks are growing more complex and interconnected, and are beginning to converge in new ways. Understanding and managing this risk landscape requires climate, nuclear and security experts to break down issue sector barriers and develop joint solutions.
Christine Parthemore, Manager, Climate-Nuclear-Security Program
cparthemore at csrisks dot org
Andrea Rezzonico, Assistant Director, The Climate-Nuclear-Security Program
arezzonico at csrisks dot org
- Council on Strategic Risks BRIEFER No. 3, “Converging Risks in Nigeria: Nuclear Energy Plans, Climate Fragility, and Security Trends,” August 28, 2019
- Working Group on Climate, Nuclear and Security Affairs – “Increasing Concern over Climate and Security Trends in Nuclear Weapon Capable States,” March 7, 2019
- Working Group on Climate, Nuclear and Security Affairs – “Report Two: A Clear Path for Complex Threats,” May 2018
- Working Group on Climate, Nuclear and Security Affairs – “Breakout Briefer: Stability At Stake: Addressing Critical Regions Facing Complex Climate, Security, And Nuclear Risks,” May 17, 2018
- Working Group on Climate, Nuclear and Security Affairs – “Breakout Briefer: Expanding The Climate-Nuclear-Security Toolkit,” May 17, 2018
- Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs – “Report One: A Framework for Understanding and Managing the Intersection of Climate Change, Security and Nuclear Affairs,” November 2017
- Working Group on Climate, Nuclear and Security Affairs – “A Note on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs,” May 25-26, 2017
- Center for Climate and Security BRIEFER No 29: “The Climate-Nuclear-Security-Nexus: A Collision Course or a Road to New Opportunities?,” May 2, 2017
Today, the international community is experiencing a number of nuclear-related trends and pressures. New nations are pursuing civilian nuclear capabilities. Some countries long holding nuclear energy are increasing their nuclear capacity, while others are witnessing the opposite trend. The threat of non-state actors seeking nuclear materials may be growing. Countries continue to debate proper approaches for keeping nuclear systems safe and secure, while innovative concepts such as nuclear fuel banks are reshaping the intellectual landscape regarding nuclear issues. At the same time, governments worldwide are having difficulty managing the effects of the rapidly changing climate, such as severe natural disasters, new disease trends, sea level rise, and exacerbated resource stress. Even without these major influencers, national security institutions are experiencing monumental stresses from technological change, continually-evolving terrorist threats, massive waves of migration, an emboldened Russia, the strength of the nonproliferation regime under question from flagrant use of chemical weapons and the emergence of a nuclear weapons ban treaty, and other pressures.
In some ways, climate, security, and nuclear trends are evolving in parallel, shaping the global landscape alongside political changes, demographic stress, globalization, and other factors. In other ways, these trends are directly influencing one another and intertwining. Innumerable examples are already clear. Bangladesh is struggling against sea level rise and changing Himalayan glacial patterns in tandem with rising terrorist threats and overpopulation, all as its government continues cooperation with Russia to build nuclear reactors. Jordan, a critical security partner of the United States, has seen protests over the country’s potential nuclear program in recent years as the government pushes forward on plans to develop a nuclear energy sector, in part to enable desalination to help address the country’s dire water shortages that are growing worse with the combined pressures of refugees and climate change. Given their humanitarian impacts and the existential risks they pose, the effects of nuclear weapons and climate change have both driven new legal challenges in targeted countries and international courts, combining to showcase a new type of lawfare that is empowering individuals and small states such as the Marshall Islands.
Climate change is making the International Atomic Energy Agency’s nuclear work in medicine, agriculture, and clean water more important than ever, just as it seems its nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation responsibilities will continue to grow.
The Center for Climate and Security launched a program in 2016 to explore the many ways climate change, nuclear, and security affairs are combining around the world. In order to understand the diverse and complex interactions among these three issue areas, the Center assembled a multidisciplinary Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs. Its members include thought leaders with wide-ranging experiences in defense, diplomacy, business, academia, journalism, and international organizations.
Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs
Brigadier General John Adams, United States Army (Ret.) – Center for Climate and Security
Brigadier General Bob Barnes, USA (Ret.) – Center for Climate and Security
Neil Bhatiya – Center for a New American Security
Dr. Joshua Busby – University of Texas-Austin
Isabella Caltabiano – Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Lieutenant General John Castellaw, USMC (Ret.) – Farmspace Systems, LLC
Dr. Sweta Chakraborty – Center for Climate and Security
Dr. Daniel Chiu – Institute for Defense Analyses
Hon. John Conger – Council on Strategic Risks
Hon. Joyce Connery – Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
Lauren Enright – Control Risks
Francesco Femia – Council on Strategic Risks
Shiloh Fetzek – Center for Climate and Security
Nicole Forrester – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia
Leon Fuerth -Project on Forward Engagement
Bishop Garrison – Human Rights First
Hon. Sherri Goodman – Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars & Council on Strategic Risks
Deborah C. Gordon – Stanford University
Dr. Nilsu Gören – University of Maryland
Seth Grae – Lightbridge Corporation
Rear Admiral Leendert “Len” Hering, Sr. (Ret.) – Center for Climate and Security
Judge Alice Hill (Ret.) – Hoover Institution
Amb. Laura Holgate (Ret.) – Nuclear Threat Initiative
Dr. Corey Johnson – University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Theo Kalionzes – MacArthur Foundation
Dr. Geoffrey Kemp – Center for the National Interest
Daniel Jay-Young Kim – Partnership for Global Security
Dr. Michael Klare – Hampshire College
Matt Korda – Federation of American Scientists
Meredith Leal – Independent Consultant
Dr. Marc Levy – Columbia University
Dr. Andrew Light – George Mason University
John Mecklin – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Robinson Meyer – The Atlantic
Dr. Anita Nilsson – Partnership for Global Security
Dr. Janne Nolan – Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Christine Parthemore – Council on Strategic Risks
Andrea Rezzonico – Council on Strategic Risks
Nickolas Roth – Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard
Dr. Benjamin Santer – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Commander David “Deke” Slayton, USN (Ret) – Hoover Institution
Elizabeth Talerman – Nucleus Strategy
Elizabeth Threlkeld – Stimson Center
Rear Admiral David W. Titley, United States Navy (Ret) – Pennsylvania State University
Pia Ulrich – Federation of American Scientists
Hon. Andy Weber – Council on Strategic Risks
In addition to the participants named above, other experts have attended workshops and otherwise contributed to the advancement of this area of work but must remain anonymous at this time.
The Council on Strategic Risks’ Converging Risks Labs develops and implements scenario exercises as a tool for encouraging better anticipatory governance of emerging security risks.
Scenario Project 1: Inclusive Planning for Changing Arctic Futures: Demonstrating a Scenario-Based Discussion
In partnership with the Sandia National Laboratories and the Polar Institute at the Wilson Center, the Council on Strategic Risks developed and executed a Tabletop Exercise Demonstration at the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference on September 5, 2019. The goal of the session was to demonstrate how a table-top exercise can be used to bring science, indigenous and policy communities together to develop information, ideas and proposed actions to drive future research directions, policy initiatives and planning for emergency response in the Arctic of 2050. This exercise used as a triggering event an Arctic maritime incident that takes place in the year 2050 in which a Chinese-owned LNG tanker collides with its Russian nuclear powered icebreaker escort in a winter storm. The following report describes the preparation and execution of the tabletop demonstration exercise, and the key takeaways from it.