Climate Change and Global Security: 12 Month Outlook

A lack of concrete and unified action will cause the effects of climate change to continue unhindered. The environmental impacts of climate change will exacerbate security issues in compromised regions, and place increased pressure on militaries around the world to help compensate. Ultimately, the next 12 months will experience continued environmental degradation, increased violence in environmentally compromised regions, and increased pressure on state militaries. 

Key Judgement 1: In the next 12 months, it is highly likely that climate change will continue to progress unchanged due to lack of action by nation states, exacerbating the issues of climate change.

  • Though policies are being implemented attempting to counteract climate change and its security implications, there is a major disconnect between policy and action on the ground (Source).

  • Major nation states like the US and China have net-zero goals that are very long term and not likely to have any substantial effect anytime soon, resulting in continuous degradation of the climate (Source, Source).

  • Some estimates suggest that climate degradation is progressing faster than previously anticipated (Source).

Key Judgement 2: In the next 12 months, it is highly likely climate change will continue to place continuous and rising pressure on global military forces.

  • Military forces are under increasing pressure to assist in environmental relief in both foreign and domestic settings (Source).
  • The US DOD climate risk assessments estimate that each passing year will increase the resource and deployment requirements of military forces specifically as a result of climate change. This issue is true for every state military (Source).
  • Domestic military resources and personnel are already being drained around the world to counteract environmental degradation (Source). Once these forces are overwhelmed, other military resources will be allocated to compensate, reducing available military assets on a global scale.

  • As more regions around the world, especially ones that are already environmentally compromised, experience rises in domestic instability and increased violent extremism, larger global militaries will be stretched even thinner to keep up with rising security demands. 

Key Judgement 3: In the next 12 months, it is highly likely climate change will continue to acutely reduce stability in environmentally compromised regions.

  • Nations that are already experiencing acute environmental degradation are also experiencing low domestic stability (Source).

  • Countries experiencing an uptick in population and simultaneous environmental degradation are especially at risk, with many African nations already experiencing the pressures of these two issues (Source).

  • Nations that are already environmentally compromised and have low domestic stability will see their issues compounded, as their states struggle to keep up with the worsening threat multiplier of climate change (Source, Source).

  • The Lake Chad Basin, where environmental degradation, diminishing resources, and already established regional instability have caused massive spikes in violent extremism, serves as a prime example of linkage between climate change and reduced security (Source).

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 8th May 2022

Samuel Longstreth
Samuel Longstreth
Samuel is a King's College graduate with an MA in War Studies. His areas of focus are extremism in the Western world, military privatization and the impact of climate change on global security.

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