New UK climate envoy, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, on climate change and conflict

Today’s Guardian reports comments on climate change as a global threat from the first interview with the UK’s interim Special Representative for Climate Change, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, since he took up his post.

“Morisetti’s central message was simple and stark: “The areas of greatest global stress and greatest impacts of climate change are broadly coincidental.”

He said governments could not afford to wait until they had all the information they might like. “If you wait for 100% certainty on the battlefield, you’ll be in a pretty sticky state,” he said.
The increased threat posed by climate change arises because droughts, storms and floods are exacerbating water, food, population and security tensions in conflict-prone regions.”

As Damian Carrington, the article’s author, mentions, the military has been making links between climate change and security for some time. It’s a theme that was explored at a STEPS/SOAS symposium on the water, energy and food nexus last October.

With an increasing recognition that energy, water and food (among other things) are linked and put under strain by changes in the environment, it’s understandable that potential conflicts over access to these resources should have come under attention from the military.

Indeed, some advocates pushing for climate change to be higher up the policy agenda may welcome this interest, but it may come at a price. Framings of climate change as a ‘security’ issue not only have an influence on foreign policy, but make their way into public statements – in some cases, justifying military or diplomatic engagements with countries or regions which are seen to be under potential or actual stress.

This article was originally posted on The Crossing.