Whether it be the flood disaster in Pakistan, the drought in the Horn of Africa or the fires in Europe, all over the world we see that the climate crisis is threatening lives. This shows that human-induced climate change is not only an environmental phenomenon, but also a threat to peace and security
Climate crisis: Catalyst for conflicts and tensions
Rising sea levels, record temperatures, more frequent weather extremes and the growing risk of environmental disasters are increasingly depriving people of their livelihoods. If the impact of the climate crisis coincides with social, political or economic challenges – as is currently the case with the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine or rising energy and food prices – it can be a catalyst for conflicts and tensions.
We can see this at present in the Pacific, where rising sea levels, coastal erosion and dwindling fish stocks are creating geopolitical tensions. Or in the Sahel region, where growing desertification and ever more droughts are forcing nomadic herders to enter regions populated by sedentary farmers, thus exacerbating conflicts.
Energy supply, climate, peace and security
Climate-induced conflicts have an impact throughout the world on livelihoods, humanitarian needs, as well as refugee and migration flows. In many countries, the consequences of climate change are calling the political and geopolitical status quo into question. Since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the energy and food crisis it triggered, if not before, it has been clear to everyone that energy supply, peace, security and climate are closely interconnected.
During her trip to Palau, Foreign Minister Baerbock said,
This war seems to be taking place thousands of kilometres away from here. Yet its terrible consequences can be felt around the globe, from Africa to Asia, in the form of rising food and energy prices and millions of people suffering or even dying from starvation.
The effects of this brutal war are hitting those hardest who are already suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis, due to floods, due to droughts, due to violent storms.
And that makes one thing brutally clear: the climate emergency is not an isolated crisis. It is the most challenging security issue of our time.
Multilateral commitment to climate and security
Germany used its non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2019/20 to raise international awareness of the security repercussions of climate change and to get the issue on the Council’s agenda.
Back in 2018, Germany and the island state of Nauru established the United Nations Group of Friends on Climate and Security. Furthermore, Germany supports a number of climate initiatives in the sphere of peacebuilding and contributes in many different ways towards anchoring climate and security in the United Nations.
The issue is also playing an increasingly prominent role in connection with the UN Climate Change Conferences (COP). Germany intends to organise a side event on climate and security at the upcoming COP27 in Egypt. An event on this issue was held in the German pavilion at COP26 in Glasgow.
Climate and security were also one of the focuses of the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in May 2022 during Germany’s Presidency. In October, Germany will host the Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) in Berlin and launch the Climate, Environment, Peace and Security Initiative.