The European Commission’s climate chief warned Friday that society will be “fighting wars” over food and water in the future, if serious action is not taken on climate change.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Frans Timmermans said global warming posed one of the greatest risks to security worldwide and urged that efforts to limit its impact should not be derailed by other geopolitical crises, such as the war in Ukraine.
“Climate is security, it’s the same thing,” said Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal and commissioner for climate action at the European Commission.
“The climate crisis is not going to be halted because there’s another priority,” Timmermans told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble during a panel session entitled “Geopolitics of Green Transition.”
Timmermans said that there was a “nascent” sense of urgency within society, which needs to be harnessed by industry and government in order to implement change.
“If we don’t do this, there is no doubt in my mind that my kids, my grandkids will be fighting wars over water and food,” said Timmermans.
“How many millions of refugees are we willing to take because some parts of the planet become uninhabitable? How many hunger epidemics will we tolerate because parts of the world can no longer cultivate agriculture production? Think about that,” Timmermans said.
Climate scientists have been warning that time is running out to keep global heating limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the aspirational temperature threshold set out in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.
The target is recognized as a crucial global goal because, beyond this level, so-called tipping points become more likely. These are thresholds at which small changes can lead to dramatic shifts in Earth’s entire life support system.