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That same month, the UN Security Council—at the initiative of the UK government—held its first-ever debate on the potential impact of climate change on peace and security. In October 2007, the Nobel committee recognized this emerging threat to peace and security by awarding former vice president Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change its peace prize. In November 2007, wo think tanks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), released another report on the issue, concluding from a range of possible scenarios of climate change that, “We already know enough to appreciate that the cascading consequences of unchecked climate change are to include a range of security problems that will have dire global consequences. ”2 The new interest in climate change and national security has been a valuable warning about the potential security consequences of global warming, but the proposed solutions that accompanied recent efforts have emphasized broader climate policy rather than specific responses to security threats.
Because the links between climate change and national security are worthy of concern in their own right, and because some significant climate change is inevitable, strategies that go beyond long-run efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions are required. This report sharpens the connections between climate change and national security and recommends specific policies to address the security consequences of climate change for the United States. In all areas of climate change policy, adaptation and mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) should be viewed as complements rather than competing alternatives—and the national security dimension is no exception. Some policies will be targeted at adaptation, most notably risk-reduction and preparedness policies at home and abroad.
These could spare the United States the need to mobilize its military later to rescue people and to prevent regional disorder—and would ensure a more effective response if such mobilization was nonetheless necessary. Others will focus on mitigation, 2 CSIS/CNAS, The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, November 2007; available at http://www. cnas. org/climatechange. 2 which is almost universally accepted as an essential part of the response to climate change. Mitigation efforts will need to be international and involve deep changes in the world’s major economies, such as those of China and India. As a result, the processes of working together to craft and implement them provide opportunities to advance American security interests.