Climate change and the military in China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States

By Michael Brzoska | March 1, 2012

National security agencies of four major powers—the United States, Russia, China, and the United Kingdom—see their militaries taking on additional roles in domestic disaster relief because of the effects of global climate change. Otherwise, national security actors show drastically different responses to climate change. The US and Russian militaries are planning for a thawing of the Arctic; but outside the Arctic, Russia seems not to regard climate change as a serious national security issue. The United States, the United Kingdom, and China are studying the effect of rising sea levels on coastal military installations; Russia apparently is not. The United States and the United Kingdom have begun significant efforts to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, but because of low domestic energy prices, the Russian military has few incentives to reduce energy consumption or increase alternative energy use. And out of deference to the government’s official position that climate change is a development rather than security issue, China’s military has largely limited its climate-related activities to mass tree planting and disaster relief. Regardless of their positions on climate change, national security entities in these four countries are not expressing much urgency or taking aggressive stands, in part due to the paucity of established knowledge about the connection between a warming climate and national security.

Together, we make the world safer.

The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent nonprofit organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.

Get alerts about this thread
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments