Facing an Unpredictable Threat: Is NATO Ideally Placed to Manage Climate Change as a Non-Traditional Threat Multiplier?
Connections The Quarterly Journal
This paper examines NATO's perception of climate change as a non-traditional threat multiplier. For well over a decade, European as well as Pentagon and other U.S. government studies and policy documents have noted that as the planet continues to warm, arable land continues to disappear, cyclones become more powerful, droughts increase in impact, food shortages are more frequent, and thousands of climate migrants are on the move. All of these climate change-related factors significantly
... gnificantly increase the likelihood of conflict escalation. The threat multiplier characteristic of climate change will only exacerbate problems such as government instability, the spread of disease, conflicts over water supplies, the strengthening of terrorism, and widespread migration. This research explores NATO's initiatives to deal with this non-traditional threat multiplier and analyzes how different schools of international relations theory define climate change and address this security concern. In addition, the article provides insights into how climate change-induced threats affect the socio-economic and political security of nation states and what that means for NATO. Finally, the research provides a review of the Alliance's engagement, policy frameworks, operations, and units responsible for tackling threats originating from climate change. It concludes with the recommendation that NATO has made significant progress on placing climate change on its threat radar, but that the Alliance will have to do more to integrate these concerns because current efforts are not sufficient to meet future security challenges stimulated by increase in the average global temperature.