01 December 2020
  • climate security

New report: Climate and Security in Brazil

This first-of-its-kind report, Climate and Security in Brazil, focuses on Latin America’s largest and most populous nation and finds that Brazil is not adequately prepared for the impacts of foreseeable climate change-related stressors on its security, economy, natural resource base, and critical national infrastructure, most especially its hydro-electricity plants and military facilities. It provides an analysis of not only the potentially catastrophic security consequences of resurgent and record-setting illegal deforestation  (and associated carbon emissions), but also forecasts the likely impacts of climate change trends such as sea-level rise, and precipitation variability on Brazil’s national security. The report recommends that the Brazilian security community incorporate climate science into its assessments and strategic planning processes to both mitigate, and prepare for, worst-case outcomes, and that Brazil recommit to its previously leading role on counter-deforestation.

The report, which is part of the World Climate and Security Report 2020 Briefer Series, articulates five main points.

  1. An at-risk Amazon biome puts Brazil’s security at risk. Due to its extensive coastline (the longest Atlantic coastline in the world), and a vast but increasingly deforested Amazon biome, millions of Brazilians are at risk to sea-level rise and the ecological fallout of deforestation respectively. These and other trends, to include population growth in natural disaster-prone regions, increase the likelihood of severe natural disasters that outstrip the coping and response capacities of civilian agencies. The Brazilian security community should not only prepare for a future where its services will be increasingly called upon to deliver life-saving services to populations in extremis, but also prepare to play a strong supporting role in counter-deforestation efforts. 
  2. Brazil’s water and energy sectors are already being impacted. Though Brazil’s energy mix is “green energy” dominant (over 70%), the nation’s dependence on river flows and reservoirs for hydroelectricity production may become its Achilles’ heel should the processes that drive these systems become disrupted by non-traditional rain patterns driven by climate change. Should hydro-electricity plants significantly under-perform while demand for electricity grows, significant multi-sectoral disruptions could occur, undermining human security and law and order.   
  3. Climate change and counter-deforestation should be much higher on Brazil’s security agenda. Brazil’s progress in the next two decades will be constrained by severe economic and security pressures exacerbated by climate-driven resource scarcities and deforestation. Should ongoing economic contraction merge with trends such as protracted droughts, hydro-electricity interruptions, and political instability, then crisis scenarios requiring military forces to augment overwhelmed emergency management agencies may ensue with likely problematic consequences. In this context, it is in Brazil’s strategic and security interests to return to its world-leading policy on counter-deforestation to reduce the scale and scope of climate change and environmental degradation, and to also prepare for scenarios where severe resource scarcities lead to a breakdown in security.  In short, Brazil needs to “climate-proof” its security.
  4. The Brazilian security community can play a pivotal role. In coordination with civilian institutions, Brazilian security institutions have a responsibility to prepare for, and prevent, these foreseeable security challenges. This includes supporting climate resilience by not only better preparing military infrastructure to withstand trends such as sea-level rise, but also strengthening military capacities for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
  5. Better coordination between security communities is critical for combating climate-related security threats. The Brazilian security community should leverage the information sharing and networking already occurring among international security community organizations working to address climate-related threats. The International Military Council on Climate and Security can facilitate information exchange and share lessons learned between Brazilian security organizations and other defence organizations across the world, to foster a common understanding of the threats and opportunities as they relate to climate change and its security consequences.

Read the report and the original article HERE.


Photocredit: CIFOR/Flickr