Munich Security Conference Addresses Energy and Climate Security

msc2 February 2014: The 50th Munich Security Conference addressed a range of security-related issues, and included a panel discussion on 'Energy and Climate Security' under the broader topic of Global Power and Regional Stability. In his opening remarks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “climate change is every much a security threat as an armed group bent on plunder.”

In his opening address, US Secretary of State John Kerry stated that: the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is “chilling;” there is no doubt regarding the impact of the human contribution to climate change; and the main solution to climate change lies with effective energy policies and the energy market, which is worth US$6 trillion, has four to five billion users, and is expected to grow to some nine billion users over the next 20 to 30 years.

Addressing the panel discussion on energy and climate security, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, former UK Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change, said climate change needs to be considered as a mainstream issue, and its implications should be factored into security and economic strategies in the same way that other threats to prosperity and stability are.

Addressing the same panel, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres stressed that climate change is a threat to military operations and presence over the long term, given the military's dependence on fuel, and its vulnerability to price volatility and supply disruption. She described threats associated with human displacement, noting that it remains unclear by how much the 200 million currently displaced globally will increase with climate change, but that estimates range from 25 million to an additional one billion by 2015, if “we have runaway climate change.” She said the military is already: beginning to take climate change into account in operation and displacement strategies; and investing in renewable energies and clean technologies, which can then be more widely used by civilians. She also discussed the trend of more local, rather than international, conflicts, which still have a global impact, and emphasized that if countries understand that investing in technology and moving toward low-carbon economies is in their own interest, global climate change will be mitigated.

The 50th Munich Security Conference took place from 31 January to 2 February 2014, in Munich, Germany. [Munich Security Conference Website] [UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Statement] [US Secretary of State John Kerry's Statement] [Video Link to Energy and Climate Security Panel Discussion]