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20 Oct 2020, 13:39
Benjamin Wehrmann

EU must include global warming in security policy – Munich Security Conference head

Tagesspiegel Background

The coronavirus pandemic shows that Europe needs to broaden its security policy focus to include non-military or terrorist threats such as infectious disease and global warming, former German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger writes in a guest article for energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. The coronavirus has killed more than one million people since it started to spread around the world early this year – over 13 times the casualties of armed conflicts in 2018, writes Ischinger, who chairs the annual foreign and security policy forum Munich Security Conference. The virus hit Europe hard, crushing the illusion that Europeans live on a "blissful island" out of reach of the world's ills. "It would be prudent for us to not make the same mistake with another global challenge: climate change," Ischinger says, arguing that the EU needs a "true foreign climate policy" that acknowledges climate change is already displacing millions of people and laying the groundwork for violent conflicts in many countries. "The effect on domestic conflicts so far has been limited, but this is due to change as global temperatures rise," Ischinger warns, citing conflicts over water in arid regions or access to resources in the Arctic as potential consequences of a rapidly changing climate. Countries have started to recognise the security threats posed by climate change, but this has yet to inspire decisive action, with efforts to limit global warming as stipulated in the Paris Agreement still vastly insufficient, he cautions. The EU has both the means and the obligation to become a frontrunner in addressing climate as a security issue and must work to weave the topic into its broader development, health, trade and conflict-prevention policies, Ischinger writes.

German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in early October called climate change "a central challenge for global stability and security" and called for a strategic overhaul of the country's military to better address this emerging frontline. Germany also sought to highlight the need for better climate conflict monitoring in the context of its temporary United Nations Security Council membership but saw its efforts thwarted by the United States, which used its veto power to keep the initiative off the agenda.

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