What threats does climate change pose to Canadian security? Is Canada well-positioned to address climate threats?
“Climate change may do more harm to the CAF than any adversary by means of damaged infrastructure and equipment, interruptions to training and exercises causing atrophy of combat skills, and the ever-present problem of being over-stretched responding to domestic emergencies”
Events through 2021, including deadly heat domes, widespread wildfires, and devastating floods, brought the consequences of climate change to the fore in Canada. It is true that climate change is but one threat among many – given current geopolitical escalation in Eastern Europe, the security threats brought on by climate change may be pushed to the backburner. Nonetheless, climate change is increasingly described as the most likely threat with very high impacts to security and wellbeing. Indeed, the recently published Munich Security Index 2022 placed climate change, extreme weather, and environmental destruction as the top risks. Accordingly, the significant and diverse impacts on Canadians and their security make climate change a threat worth addressing immediately. This Vimy Paper contributes to an examination of the threat, including to national security, human security, and political stability; it then assesses Canada’s weaknesses and strengths in addressing those threats. This examination provides a foundation on which to base deeper analysis of implications and ways forward in Part Two.