Contributors: Dafne Yeltekin, Lizander Oros, Zainab Koli, Yusra Bitar, Elisa Soto-Danseco

With the first IPCC Assessment Report in 1990 and the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the scale of climate change impacts have been met with dominant international actors viewing climate change as both a national and international security threat, rather than a matter of collective human and ecological security.

The global military institutions’ securitized framing of the climate catastrophe continued from there. The US military considers climate change a “stress multiplier” that will aggravate existing tensions. The EU similarly defines it as a “threat multiplier.” In 2021, Biden declared climate change a “national security priority.” NATO adopted an Action Plan for 2030 to deliver a “Climate Change and Security Agenda.” The UN Security Council convened for a high-level open debate on climate security.

This approach not only intentionally prevents from questioning the structural roots of the climate crisis, denouncing the US military’s toxic environmental and genocidal legacy and therefore enacting systemic change, but it also strengthens the power of militaries, policing, security and border agencies. It further fosters the corporate interests and profits of transnational corporations (TNCs) and misplaces responsibility from the culprits to the real victims of climate change, labeling them as “threats” and “risks.”

A climate security approach that relies on militarized responses will ultimately create more insecurity. A true alternative and systemic approach would instead be rooted in decolonization, abolition, transnational feminism, degrowth and ecological security seeking to demilitarize and abolish a War on Climate, while returning land to Indigenous communities and building alternative institutions and relationships that foster collective wellbeing for humans and non-humans. These alternative movements working in transnational solidarity counter false solutions that claim to “green the military,” position them as the most capable providers of disaster relief and climate change planning, and promote border securitization.

A demilitarized future is possible.