In May 2018, the Brazilian Institute for Climate and Society and the German Embassy in Brazil hosted an event on international climate and security in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting, joined by experts from the public sector, civil society and international think tanks, reflects Latin America’s increased interest in the international dimension of climate fragility risks.
Latin America is no stranger to the security implications of climate change. Natural disasters and resource scarcity in the region’s arid zones have driven populations to move and shaped the continent’s urban centres for decades, leading to resource depletion and aggravating urban fragility. But the continent is now also starting to pick up on the global dimension of climate security, e.g. geopolitical impacts, and is looking into how to prepare for a changing international scenario.
On 18 May 2018, the Institute for Climate and Society hosted an event on International Climate and Security in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where adelphi’s Alexander Carius highlighted climate impacts as a stress multiplier with high conflict-inducing potential. He drew attention to the Lake Chad situation and stressed how this climate security hotspot is crucial for understanding and addressing global security threats arising from regional climatic pressures.
In his intervention, Carius addressed how climate impacts as well as adaptation strategies might influence regional power relations and fundamentally change the global geopolitical scenario. “What will happen if Germany meets its target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduces its dependency on Russian oil and gas?” questioned Carius, as an example of how far-reaching the consequences of international climate governance can be. He also emphasized the need to prepare cities for the inevitable strain on infrastructure that will arise from growing climate migration to urban centres, a well-known problem in the Latin American continent.
The event is part of the Sustainable Future Dialogues initiative and gathered experts and academics from the German Embassy in Brazil, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), the United Nations Population Fund Brazil (UNFPA Brazil), the Fondación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA), the Center for Climate & Security, the Climate Change Division of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DCLIMA), the Brazilian Defence Ministry, the International Institute for Sustainability (IIS) and Conectas Human Rights.
The report, requested by the US Congress in 2017, drew sharp criticism for being too thin on details and failing to show which bases are most at risk across the military.
The Katowice climate package brings minor progress, but COP 24 failed to deliver on the most fundamental issues such as raising ambition of national contributions, implementing human rights, and ensuring support for developing countries.
Brazil has demoted climate diplomacy as part of a foreign ministry shake-up, in Jair Bolsonaro’s first two weeks as president.
In some areas of the world, including Central America, rising sea levels and declining agricultural productivity due to climate change are expected to trigger major migratory flows, especially within countries. The role of policy-makers is it to promote local solutions while engaging in regional cooperation for a preventative approach.