Statement on Cluster III: Climate change and security

14th Meeting of the Informal Working Group Structured Dialogue, Vienna, 22 October 2021.

Mr. Chair,

Norway would like to thank the Spanish Chair for placing climate change and security on the Structured Dialogue (SD) agenda.

We are all aware of the impacts of climate change, which have been thoroughly discussed in this Group in previous meetings.

Norway’s understanding is that climate change will challenge all systems which depend on global security, peace, and stability. It is hindering development, eroding the resilience of populations, and transforming and redefining the global security landscape.

There is a growing awareness that the human security challenges created by climate change today, could become the hard security problems of tomorrow. But there are no hard security solutions.

There are already signs of climate consequences impacting conflicts in certain regions. Let me recall that twelve of the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change are also dealing with violent conflict. Six of the ten countries that host the most peacekeepers are located in areas ranked most exposed to climate change.

The most recent report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been termed “code red for humanity «and will be further addressed during the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Glasgow (COP 26).

As an elected member of the UN Security Council, Norway has taken initiatives to ensure that the Security Council discusses climate-related security threats and that it assesses, on a continual basis, the possible impact of climate change on other issues on its agenda.

While there is no automatic link between climate change and conflict, climate change exacerbates and propels existing tensions, and is often labelled as a threat multiplier. We risk a negative spiral: Climate change undermines the ability to cope with conflict. And conflict undermine resilience to climate change.

Referring to the Chair’s questions, we believe the Structured Dialogue can be a useful platform to discuss how we can rethink and adapt our approaches to preventing conflict and sustaining peace. Integrating climate-related security risks into our security and conflict analysis, planning and response is an important part of this. Ensuring that our mechanisms and efforts are “climate proof” and conflict sensitive, is another. Addressing the climate “footprint” of our defence systems, is certainly required. It is being done in Norway as well as in many other countries and could be a useful subject for further discussions.

Let me reiterate that we believe it would be useful to consider holding expert group meetings with external experts in order to enhance our common understanding of the destabilising impact of consequences of climate change on the political-military area.

Further, we could explore ways in which conventional arms control mechanisms potentially could be used to address climate change issues such as promoting the reduction and decommissioning of some of the most climate unfriendly military equipment. 

Mr. Chair,

Norway remains committed to contributing to a continued discussion on the issue of climate change and security in the Structured Dialogue.