Climate Change
Early Warning & Risk Analysis
North America
Dennis Taenzler

The European Union is not the alone in exploring the means to address potential security implications of climate change. EU and Member States representatives met recently in Berlin, at a briefing session regarding this topic. Decision makers in the United States however, are also discussing this issue more intensively, as part of the dynamic national debate on the challenges of climate change and energy security. Led by the Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar, a Senate Hearing was held on “Climate Change and Global Security: Challenges, Threats and Diplomatic Opportunities” in July. The hearing was based on assessments provided most recently by the Department of Defense and last year by the National Intelligence Council. According to Senator Kerry the nexus between today’s threats and climate change are most acute in South Asia, referring to potential terrorist threat emanating from this region. He further outlined that most instruments of US foreign policy will be affected by climate change, for example the readiness of US military operations due to rising sea levels throughout the world.

Senator Lugar linked the question of climate change and conflict to the overall oil dependency of the United States. "As we approach the point when the world's oil-hungry economies are competing for insufficient supplies of energy, oil will become an even stronger magnet for conflict." Lugar outlined that some answers, such as developing renewables, can be useful in addressing a cluster of threats confronting US national security. According to the Senator, the same holds true for the development of clean coal technologies as one the main energy sources, not only in the US but also in China and India. The Hearing in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations increased momentum for a new US climate and energy policy approach, as envisaged in the House bill introduced by Congress members Edward J. Markey and Henry A. Waxman. It remains to be seen however, if that momentum for a more proactive climate policy approach will last until year’s end to positively influence the national and international climate decision making processes.

For more information on the US Senate Hearing, please see

For the meeting report of the Berlin Briefing on "Climate Change and International Security" facilitated by Adelphi Research, please see


Published in: ECC-Newsletter, August 2009 

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