photo by Heather Goldstone.
Climate change is a threat multiplier—exacerbating existing societal stressors and regional instabilities.
Although climate change has been identified by policymakers as a critical national security issue, granular climate impacts are rarely included in security strategy. In 2021, Woodwell Climate’s Risk team began to address these needs through a collaborative research and policy-development effort with the Center for Climate & Security (CCS), a non-partisan security institute. In this interdisciplinary collaboration between the scientific and security communities, our goal is to provide actionable climate intelligence that can be used to directly inform security policy.
We quantify and map key climate risks that have the potential to aggravate existing instabilities and tensions in the future—from the impacts of crop yield failure on food security in Iran and North Korea, to the threat of permafrost thaw on critical infrastructure in the Arctic.
We examine these impacts and others in our most recent collaboration, focusing on the key geographies of Iran and Türkiye in the Middle East. This follows from our first suite of climate security case studies, with full reports and interactive StoryMaps on the China-India border region (storymap), the Arctic (storymap), and North Korea (storymap).
In each case study, we go beyond just assessing key climate risks. In partnership with CCS, we offer comprehensive, policy-relevant climate security analysis and science-based policy recommendations.
By identifying and addressing the ways in which climate change can aggravate and catalyze existing threats, climate-aware security policy can help avoid the worst security scenarios and prepare for those that are unavoidable.