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Europe Knows that Climate Action Is Vital to Global Security

While Europe bears disproportionate historical responsibility for climate change, it accounts for just 7.5% of global emissions today, meaning that the actions taken within the EU can have only a limited impact on the world’s climate. In fact, the only solution to climate change is a global one.

BRUSSELS – “Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end three-degree temperature rise,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently warned. He is right. Unless we act decisively – beginning at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) underway in Dubai – the threat that climate change poses to humanity will become nothing short of existential.

Already, climate change is a major risk multiplier for conflict and instability. Extreme weather events like floods and heatwaves have led to the forcible displacement of more than 20 million people each year since 2008. By 2050, more than one billion people may have insufficient access to water, and more than 200 million may be forced to migrate.

Water scarcity and food shortages are fueling violent conflicts in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and other parts of the world. Of the 20 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, 12 are mired in conflicts. Authoritarian countries are taking advantage of the turmoil, attempting to gain influence over fragile governments and secure access to raw materials. Unless our mitigation and adaptation efforts are equal to the climate crisis, these trends will accelerate and spread, with truly catastrophic results.