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Climate change and military planning

Michael Brzoska (Institute for Peace Research and Security Studies, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Article publication date: 18 May 2015




The paper aims to investigate the consequences of climate change for the future of armed forces and their presentation in national security documents.


A classification of potential future military roles and functions is derived from relevant literature, resulting in six “military futures”. Frames are developed for these whose occurrence is counted in 53 authoritative documents on security policy and defense planning from 38 countries. Results are presented in descriptive statistics.


The paper demonstrates that climate change has become an important issue for military planning. However, the directions in which it takes thinking about the future of armed forces differ widely. Among the six “military futures” identified, those linked to the function of disaster relief are most frequently found. However, the expansion of traditional military roles is also promoted. Rarer are suggestions for armed forces to became “greener” or “leaner”. In general, climate change provides an additional justification for continuing established paths for military planning.


The paper makes two contributions to the existing literature. First, it provides a classification of potential future consequences of climate change for armed forces. Second, it empirically establishes, for a set of authoritative documents, the relative importance of differing expectation of the effects of climate change on the structure and functions of militaries.



Brzoska, M. (2015), "Climate change and military planning", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 172-190.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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