A changing climate will affect all aspects of human life including, food, energy and water, health, migration, the economy and trade; and potentially conflict and stability. However, changes in the climate will not occur in isolation. So, understanding future threats to security requires that we evaluate not only the changing climate hazards, but consider these alongside the simultaneous changes in exposure and vulnerability of human populations.
Climate science has made huge progress in understanding the dynamics of climate variability and change over the last few decades, with climate models being a valuable tool for understanding the future climate. However, there remains a gap between the type of information climate projections provide and an understanding of the consequences for human well-being. The Climate Security team undertakes new research into climate and climate change from the perspective of human security outcomes, to provide salient and actionable advice on the global challenges of climate change.
The Climate Security team adopts a systems-based approach; engaging in trans-disciplinary research into the complex interaction between climate change and security drivers. By interpreting the science of climate variability and change in the context of the whole system, the Climate Security team aims to explore questions such as:
- Can 9 billion people be fed equitably, healthily and sustainably?
- Can we cope with the future demands for water?
- Does climate change threaten long term development goals, and how might we address this threat?
- Where could climate change interact with other drivers of instability, conflict and migration, and how can we understand this risk?
With a broad range of customers spanning UK Government, Ministry of Defence (MoD), UN organisations, NGOs, research institutes and commercial businesses, the Climate Security team provide policy-relevant advice, produce a range of effective communication tools and develop new research and analysis to help understand the implications of climate change for long term security.
- To engage with experts across a range of disciplines, including social science, economics and trade, on trans-disciplinary problems of complex environment-human systems and their response to climate change.
- To provide customer and policy-relevant interpretation and communication of climate science for a range of stakeholders.
- To identify and research key climate science questions in the context of the globalised and inter-connected world.
Current and recent activities
- Extreme weather and resilience of the global food system: as part of the UK-US food security and extremes taskforce, coordinated by the UK Global Food Security Programme.
- Food security for China in a changing climate: as part of the Climate Science for Service Partnership China project, undertaking new research and developing novel techniques to assess the climate risk to food security in China, with a particular focus on simultaneous production shocks across regions.
- Wheat production and climate change: analysis of the climate drivers behind wheat production shocks, providing a wider global context for UK agricultural policy and resilience planning as part of the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme.
- Food insecurity and climate change: an interactive website which enables exploration of the way in which different scenarios of global greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change could change the geography of food insecurity in developing and least-developed countries. A collaborative project with the UN World Food Programme.
- Human dynamics of climate change: a communication tool that aims to illustrate some of the impacts of climate and population change in the context of a globalised world. A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) commissioned project developed collaboratively with other leading scientific institutions.
- The geography of poverty, disasters and climate extremes in 2030: a project commissioned by the Department for International Development (DfID) and undertaken collaboratively with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
- Climate extremes and resilient poverty reduction: contributors to an Overseas Development Institute (ODI) report following on from the geography of poverty, disasters and climate extremes in 2030 project, looking in more depth at the relationship between climate extremes and poverty.
- Global Strategic Trends: significant contribution to the Global Strategic Trends out to 2045 report published by the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC), UK MoD.