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.
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.
CSR Background Materials
Briefer No. 12, “Connecting Nuclear and Climate Policy in the Biden Administration,” November 2020
Briefer No. 11, “Brazil: A Climate, Nuclear and Security Hotspot,” October 2020
Briefer No. 9, “Converging Risks in South Asia: Is a Disruptive Transition on the Horizon?,” July 2020
Briefer No. 8, “Climate and Nuclear Security in the South China Sea: The Cases of Indonesia and the Philippines,” June 2020
Briefer No. 7, “Nuclear Energy Developments, Climate Change and Security in Turkey,” April 2020
Briefer No. 6, “Climate Risks to India’s Nuclear Program,” March 2020
Briefer No. 5, “Climate Risks to India’s Internal Security,” March 2020
Briefer No. 4, “Climate Change and the India-Pakistan Rivalry,” January 2020
Briefer No. 3, “Converging Risks in Nigeria: Nuclear Energy Plans, Climate Fragility, and Security Trends,” August 2019
Report, Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs – “Nuclear Energy Developments, Climate Change, and Security in Egypt,” May 2019
Briefer No. 2, Working Group on Climate, Nuclear and Security Affairs – “Increasing Concern over Climate and Security Trends in Nuclear Weapon Capable States,” March 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 2018
Working Group on Climate, Nuclear and Security Affairs – “Breakout Briefer: Expanding The Climate-Nuclear-Security Toolkit,” May 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 2017
Center for Climate and Security Briefer No 29: “The Climate-Nuclear-Security-Nexus: A Collision Course or a Road to New Opportunities?,” May 2017
CSR posed questions about Russia’s climate, nuclear, and security intersections to four experts with different perspectives. Their responses highlight the range of analysis regarding Russia’s growing influence amidst a changing global order.
CSR posed a series of questions about the Arctic region to four leading national security experts with different perspectives in a recent video interview below. Together, their diverse answers may help us to better understand the complex linkages across climate change, Arctic sea melt and new sea routes, prospects for conflict, competition, and cooperation within the global order, and new risks associated with nuclear weapons.
CSR posed questions about the impact of climate change on conflict and nuclear proliferation to five leading national security experts with different perspectives. Together, their diverse answers may help us to better understand the complex linkages across climate change, domestic, regional, and global conflict, the effect of nuclear energy on carbon emissions, future trends in nuclear proliferation, prospects for cooperation within the global nuclear order, and the potential for conflict escalation and nuclear war.
On The Verge Podcast
Dr. Sweta Chakraborty speaks with South Asia experts (and participants in CSR’s Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs) Elizabeth Threlkeld of the Stimson Center and Neil Bhatiya of the Center for a New American Security. They discuss nuclear weapons, climate security issues, the effects of natural disasters on the Pakistani population and government, and much more.
Episode 2: China with Rear Admiral Leendert “Len” Hering Sr., USN (Ret) and Christine Parthemore (September 10, 2019)
In this episode, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty speaks with national security experts (and members of CSR’s Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs) Rear Admiral Len Hering Sr., USN (Ret), a member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board, and Christine Parthemore, director of CSR’s Center on Strategic Weapons.
Many consider the United Arab Emirates a nascent nuclear energy success story in a largely oil dependent and politically strained Middle East. In this episode, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty speaks to nuclear experts Joyce Connery, a Board Member and former Chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (joining the podcast in her personal capacity), and Seth Grae, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Lightbridge. Connery and Grae (both members of CSR’s Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs) delve into the UAE’s nuclear energy progression, global governance mechanisms, and the U.S. role in the shifting international nuclear power market.
This episode focuses on effectively communicating climate and nuclear issues. It can be difficult to effectively translate complex risks like climate and nuclear security issues to the global community. In this episode, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty speaks to Dr. Benjamin Santer, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Matt Korda, a Research Associate for the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Santer and Korda, members of CSR’s Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs, discuss the challenges they face in their respective fields and how communications could be improved.
This episode focuses on climate, nuclear, and security dynamics in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Iran are geopolitical rivals that have been at the forefront of global security discourse for the last several years. In this episode, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty speaks to David Michel, a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Climate and Security and a Research Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and Christine Parthemore, CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks.