Climate change will also impact Canada’s traditional security interests

MONTREAL—On Oct. 29, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed that Canada host a NATO Centre of Excellence on Climate and Security. Trudeau may be conceiving this initiative as a preliminary multilateral effort among like-minded developed states, before embarking on broader and more complex policy efforts beyond Europe and North America. Climate change will primarily exacerbate food scarcity on land and at sea, actually reverse socio-economic development in the tropics, undermine institutions, and drive climate refugees from 141 countries, estimates of which, by 2050, range from 143 to 216 million, according to the World Bank, and as high as 1.2 billion. NATO is a useful forum for coordination because of its already demonstrated ability to manage consensus over the very serious issue of nuclear deterrence policy in NATO’s Military Committee. NATO has made addressing climate change a central parts of its planning process, and initiatives include those of the British Ministry of Defence and France. The U.S. Pentagon has been for some years concerned about the impact of climate change on its military bases, many of which are located on its coasts. The disruption of the Gulf Stream by the rapid melting of Greenland ice sheets could result in a dramatic cooling of Europe, resulting in the displacement of up to 50 million Europeans, as well as altering rain and monsoon patterns in South America, West Africa, and the Indian Ocean, disrupting food supplies in regions with vulnerable tropical soils.

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