Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Brussels, 28 June 2023

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Our first Executive Vice-President [for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans] is in charge of climate policy, and climate policy has security [implications].

I am in charge of Foreign [Affairs] and Security Policy, and I have to take into account the climate change as a source of insecurity. That is why we have been working together and presenting together this Joint Communication [on the climate and security nexus] from both point of views – climate [change] as a generator of insecurity and security policy taking account the climate constraints and policies.

We are here to discuss this emerging threat in our security.

Security has become a multidimensional concept. Energy security, economic security, climate security, [or] food security. There are a lot of issues that have ‘security’ attached to them, which makes the work to fight against insecurity much more complex.

Today, we are here to talk about an existential threat to humanity. More than an insecurity challenge, it is an existential threat: [climate change and] environmental degradation affects peace and security.

There is a map of the world [in the Annex of the Joint Communication] where you can see where the high-level intensity climate incidents have happened. You immediately see that these are the places where big troubles are also happening.

It is a clear coincidence of climate problems and troubles from the point of view of instability, fighting, wars [in the] whole Sahel area, Caucasus, Africa, some parts of South-East Asia, [and] some parts of Latin America. It is amazing how, maybe, there is a correlation that does not explain everything but it is clear that there is a cause-effect issue between climate effects, security and peace.

You, Frans, mentioned some interesting cases, but from my perspective, let me add that people will be on the move: [by 2050], more than one billion people will have insufficient access to water. More than one billion people will have to move just to look [for] water. Soil degradation could rise to 90%, and this awful drought that we are suffering in Europe shows how the vegetation can die, because no [of lack of] irrigation and too much heat.

By the way, our army helicopters cannot fly as high as they used to do because it is too hot, and the engines do not work. So, we have to review all the machinery of our warfare because of the high temperatures. And the demand for food will increase by 60% meaning that more water is needed when water will become less available.

In the Lake Chad basin, for example, serious water scarcity, food insecurity and resource competition are fueling grievances, instability and conflict in the whole Sahelian region.

In Afghanistan – look at Afghanistan, while we talk about the Taliban– [where] the rise of temperatures, lower levels of rainfall, weak infrastructure and water management [systems] threatens the livelihoods of millions of rural Afghans in an already fragile context.

And Afghanistan is building a canal to take water from a river on the border with their neighbours that will divert an important flow of water that Afghanistan certainly needs, but the neighbours say: “Look, this is a war case. If you take the water up the river, we will not be able to maintain our agricultural activities down the river. So, this is a war case.”

The Arctic is another example. The Arctic is the new geo-political frontier.

Javier Solana in 2008 said that climate change was a ‘threat multiplier’. 15 years later, we see that it is certainly true.

And [we have] to have to work and [on] how to work, let me just mention [some examples]:

  • A dedicated hub that our European Union Satellite Centre to generate more data and analysis.
  • Deploying environmental advisers in all our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations [by 2025].
  • Setting up a ‘Climate, Security and Defence Training Platform’ at the European Security and Defence College.
  • Develop[ing] an EU Climate and Defence Network together with our Member States, greening our armies. We know that the armies are not the greenest thing in the world, but we can do [it], we can make them greener.
  • Invest[ing] in partnerships and pay attention to the last issue that you mentioned, Frans [Timmermans], the geo-engineering, which should not create a distraction from tackling the root causes of climate change nor offer polluters an avenue for avoiding taking measures.

But certainly, it is something that has to be taken into consideration and [that] has important security consequences because it is in itself, depending on how it is being implemented, an additional danger.

Q&A 
Q. It is to touch on the geoengineering topic again. I just wanted you to expand a bit on what talks is the European Union already taking part in on this topic? And which international partners you are most in touch with?

[It is] difficult to explain what we are doing in the European Union: what we are doing at the European Union or what we are doing in the Member States. It is mainly the Member States who are working in this field. We, at the European institutions, do not do any kind of activities in this field, but Member States are doing it. And the problem with this kind of new technologies is the security concern that they represent. It depends on how they are being implemented, and it depends if it is being done in coordination with other countries. That is why the [Joint] Communication takes into account this issue, but we, at the European institutions – as far as I know – are not doing concrete developments of this technology, but we have to look for the regulation of it. It is a matter of regulating what everybody is doing on that.

There are two projects funded by Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, which assess geoengineering and the negative emissions pathways and governance of research. And we are also considering the request for advice via the Scientific Advisory Mechanism.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-243177

Source – EEAS

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