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Climate Change

Vol. 5 No. 1 | Summer 2018
Threat Multiplier

Threat Multiplier: The Growing Security

Implications of Climate Change

A Conversation with Sherri Goodman

Interviewed by Eli Stiefel

Fletcher Security Review: Ms. Goodman, thank you very much for speaking with me today. As you know, the topic for this year’s publication, “Making Waves,” focuses on geopolitics, energy, and the environment. Our aim is to expand the definition of security to include more than the military and hard power. In line with this proposition, from your perspective, which environmental issues, in general, pose the greatest security challenges?

Sherri Goodman: Well climate change is one of our greatest security challenges particularly because some parts of this administration are ignoring it. Not our military, but regardless, this is still among the greatest of the threats we face. Ten years ago, the first CNA (Center for Naval Analysis) Military Advisory Board Report, which I founded and led, characterized climate change as a threat multiplier. This is still the appropriate framing for understanding climate risks; particularly extreme weather events, sea level rise, increased drought in certain areas and precipitation in others. The changes in the natural environment from climate change are leading to many second order effects such as migration, instability, health insecurity, the list goes on. We need to understand these forces as drivers of instability and potential conflict when we formulate our national security strategy...


This piece is offered in PDF format for easier reading. Download the PDF to read more.

Sherri Goodman  

Sherri Goodman is an experienced leader and senior executive, lawyer and director in the fields of national security, energy, science, oceans and environment. She is a Senior Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and CNA (Center for Naval Analyses), and a Senior Advisor for International Security at the Center for Climate and Security. At CNA, Goodman also served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel and was the founder and Executive Director of the CNA Military Advisory Board, whose landmark reports include National Security and the Threat of Climate Change (2007), and National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change (2014), Advanced Energy and US National Security (2017), and The Role of Water Stress in Instability and Conflict (2017), among others. Previously, she served as the President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. From 1993-2001, Goodman served as the first Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security).

From Energy to...

From Energy to Climate Security

The EU’s Evolving Views

Ellen Scholl

“Europe’s foreign policy interests have changed. Managing climate risk and an orderly global energy transition are now critical to Europe’s security and prosperity.”


        The European Union (EU) has increasingly interconnected energy and climate policy, with the formulation of the Energy Union as one notable — if yet incomplete — step in this direction. In addition to the linkages between energy policy and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet climate goals under the Paris Agreement, the EU has been increasingly vocal about the link between climate and security, and under- taken (at least rhetorical) efforts to incorporate climate security concerns into broader externally focused policy areas.

This shift toward a focus on climate security, however, raises questions of how energy security and climate security relate, the impact of the former on the latter, and how the Energy Union fits into this shift, as well as how the EU characterizes climate risk and how this relates

to geopolitical risks in its broader neighborhood. It also begs the question of how to go beyond identifying and conceptualizing the security risks posed by climate change to addressing them.

This paper charts changes in the EU’s energy and climate security discourse, focusing on their intersection in the Energy Union and the EU’s promotion of the energy transition to lower carbon forms of energy, and the relevant risks in the European neighborhood. The paper concludes that while the EU has evolved to include climate priorities and climate risks into foreign and security policy thinking, the complicated relation- ship between climate change and security complicates efforts to operationalize this in the EU, in relations with the broader European neighborhood, and beyond...

This piece is offered in PDF format for easier reading. Download the PDF to read more.

Ellen Scholl  

Ellen Scholl is a deputy director at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. Ellen has worked on a range of energy issues throughout her career, most recently as Robert Bosch fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI). She also has over five years of energy-related legislative experience, having handled an energy portfolio as committee staff for the US Congress and Texas Senate. Her work on energy and geopolitics and energy governance has been published by SWP, and other work has appeared in the Berlin Policy Journal, Foreign Policy, and Lawfare, among others.

Ellen also worked on energy issues as a student fellow with the Robert S. Strauss Center on International Security and Law, and as a member of the inaugural cohort of the US Foreign Service Internship Program, during which she worked in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and at US Embassy Ankara. Ellen received her master’s degree in global policy studies, with a certificate in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where she was a Powers fellow. She earned a BA in humanities and government from the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with highest honors.

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