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Call for Evidence

Climate change and security

The Environmental Audit Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the interaction of climate change and security issues and the UK Government’s approach to anticipating, preventing, and responding to the security threats posed by climate change.

Background to the inquiry

The global threat level posed by climate change was assessed as “a code red for humanity” by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2021.[1]

The ways in which climate change and security interrelate are manifold. Climate change is a major driver of insecurity at both the human and national level, causing and heightening tensions, instability, polarisation and extremism. Climate change can exacerbate and prolong conflict in regions undergoing conflict. Conflict can disrupt action to tackle climate change, while in turn, action to tackle climate change can offer opportunities for peace-building.[2]

Because of climate change, people face food insecurity, water insecurity, and losing their homes and livelihoods. Competition for natural resources, already being depleted due to environmental degradation, may be exacerbated by the mass displacement of people brought about by climate change, both within jurisdictions and across borders.[3] In 2022, over 30 million people were forcibly displaced by weather-related sudden onset hazards.[4] The World Bank predicts that by 2050, 216 million people could move within their own countries because of slow-onset climate change.[5]

Risks also include the physical risks to national infrastructure – such as the threat to coastal naval bases from sea level rises, and the impact of extreme weather on transport and other infrastructure.[6] Militaries are relied upon to support emergency relief efforts, such as following floods.[7]

At the inter-state level, for example, rising sea temperatures in the High North make the Arctic increasingly accessible, creating geopolitical competition and tensions as explored by the Environmental Audit Committee in its recent report on The UK and the Arctic environment.[8]

Terms of reference

The Committee welcomes written submissions which address any or all of the issues raised in the following terms of reference, to be received by 5pm on Monday 29 April 2024:

The Committee plans to examine the following principal questions in the course of its inquiry:

1. Understanding the challenge

What challenges to UK national and human security are posed by climate change in the next five, ten, and twenty years? In particular:

  • What is the relationship between climate change and population growth, and what are the effects of this relationship on displacement and population flows, both within the UK and across borders?
  • How might climate change and its effects affect the UK’s access to natural resources such as water, food, and energy?
  • How does climate change affect UK infrastructure and land use, including military assets, in ways that create and exacerbate insecurities?
  • How well prepared is the UK to respond to extreme weather events, such as wildfires and flooding?
  • How do the risks to the UK compare to those facing other countries?

2. Potential solutions

What is the UK Government’s current approach to anticipating, preventing and responding to the threats in part 1? How could that approach be strengthened? In particular:

  • Which solutions would have the largest impact across the widest range of areas for the UK?
  • What updates to Government policy and strategy documents, such as the National Adaptation Programme, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, and the Defence Command Paper, would improve the UK’s ability to address the security implications of climate change?
  • How can the UK Government fully embed mitigation of security risks in its plans to achieve its targets for climate and the environment?
  • What technological innovations could strengthen the UK Government’s approach to addressing the security implications of climate change?
  • How best can funding be targeted towards climate adaptation and emergency response solutions?
  • What more can the UK Government do to encourage global co-operation on climate security issues?


It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

The House of Commons is committed to diversity and inclusion and wishes to hear from a wide range of voices. If you require any adjustments to enable you to contribute to the inquiry, please contact or 020 7219 8890 so that staff can assist you.


[1] “Secretary-General Calls Latest IPCC Climate Report ‘Code Red for Humanity’, Stressing ‘Irrefutable’ Evidence of Human Influence”, UN, 9 August 2021

[2] UNDP, What is climate security and why is it important?

[3] John P. Sullivan and Keeley Townsend, “Climate Migration: Adding Fuel to the Ethnocentric Fire”, Terrorism and Political Violence, 2022, vol.34, no.5, 914-925

[4] Internal displacement monitoring centre, Global report on internal displacement 2023

[5] The World Bank, “Climate change could force 216 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050”, 13 September 2021

[6] “Climate change is creating security threats around the world – and militaries are responding”, The Conversation, 17 January 2022

[7] Climate change and (in)security, Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, October 2022

[8] Sixth report of the Environmental Audit Committee, Session 2022-23, The UK and the Arctic environment, HC 1141

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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