UK military admits climate change is global security risk

The changing climate poses a serious risk to geopolitical stability and could result in more British troops being deployed around the world, according to the former commander of UK maritime forces.

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti was speaking at a parliamentary briefing considering how the UK will be affected by the recent IPCC Synthesis Report – which proves beyond reasonable doubt that climate change is happening and caused by humans.

“The impact of climate change is increasing the stresses – such as food shortages or inequality – in a number of volatile countries, increasing the threat of instability in an already unstable world,” said Morisetti.

“This will likely increase the number of British troops mobilised around the world in peacekeeping missions, humanitarian projects, and combat operations.”

“This is as much about blood and treasure as it is about environment.”

UK response

Morisetti, who formerly held the highest seagoing command in the Royal Navy, said the IPPC report clarified the need for immediate action: “If I said there was a 10% chance of a bomb in this room, would you expect us to do something about it? And we know a lot more than that about the impact of a changing climate.”

He went on to stress the importance of keeping global warming within the UN’s 2C target.

“We can probably secure a 2C world, but I think it’s most unlikely we can secure a 4C world,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in this room knows what a 4C world would look like.”

Finally, the Rear Admiral, who now is the UK’s Climate and Energy Security Envoy, said that international co-operation was the key to preventing this apocalyptic scenario. 

“The globalised world we live in, means we are affected in the UK by events many thousands of miles away,” he said. “There is no magic drawbridge we can draw up and the problem goes away.”

Vicious circle

Last week UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon bought attention to a different aspect of the relationship between climate change and war, saying: “The environment has long been a silent casualty of armed conflict.”

“From the contamination of land and the destruction of forests to the plunder of natural resources and the collapse of management systems, the environmental consequences of war are often widespread and devastating”

IPCC Synthesis Report: Five implications for the UK’s security and military

1) Climate change poses an increasing risks to geopolitical stability.

2) Climate change acts as a threat multiplier, resulting in increased demand for UK military engagement around the world.

3) Many government are already struggling to meet the basic food, water and shelter needs of their populations thanks to climate change.

4) Increased instability threatens the supply of raw materials that the UK needs for economic growth.

5) The only solution to these risks is to tackle the source of the problem; there is no military answer.

Catch up on the key points and the industry reaction to the IPCC Synthesis Report

Brad Allen

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