US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday warned of the global security risks posed by climate change.
“Climate change is making the world more unsafe and we need to act,” Austin said at President Joe Biden’s climate summit.
“Today, no nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis. We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does,” Austin said.
Austin pointed to melting ice in the Arctic and the increasing competition for resources and influence in the region.
And in Africa and Central America, millions of people are affected by drought, hunger and displacement due to rising temperatures and extreme weather, he said.
In the Pacific, the rising sea levels and more frequent and stronger storms are putting people in danger.
The mass migration of people seeking safety and security puts them at risk of being exploited and radicalized, which undermines stability, he said.
Climate change also makes the job of security forces more difficult, he said.
“From coast to coast and across the world, the climate crisis has caused substantial damage and put people in danger, making it more difficult for us to carry out our mission of defending the United States and our allies,” he said.
Biden invited 40 heads of state and government to a two-day climtae summit. The meeting is aimed at rallying major economies to set more ambitious carbon-slashing goals and is seen as important preparation ahead of the UN climate conference in Glasgow in November.