General Market

Ireland’s economy: Still riding the globalisation wave

At the Cliffs of Moher, on the west coast of Ireland, surfers test their limits in an emerald barrel, Aileens, one of the world’s great surfing waves. Like those surfers, Ireland is back up after a banking and fiscal wipeout and riding the globalisation wave again, and in style. Ireland has come a long way since the dark days at the end of 2010, when–with a broken banking system and locked out of sovereign debt markets–it entered a three-year EU-IMF programme. In 2016 the economy should expand by over 4%; while that is slower than the more-than-6% real growth notched up in 2015, it would maintain Ireland’s place as the fastest-growing OECD economy for the third year running. The public deficit has fallen steadily to 2% of GDP, public debt has declined from a peak of 120.3% to around 100% of GDP, and the banking system is back on its feet. Jobs growth is robust, with the unemployment rate sliding down from a peak of 15.1% to 9.3%.

Recessions caused by banking crises are notoriously long and recoveries muted, as several other EU countries have found out. The recession in Ireland was indeed deep and protracted, so why has the expansion in Ireland been so strong? In two words: foreign investment.

Between 2009 and 2013, an extraordinary €125 billion (61% of GDP) of foreign direct investment (FDI) flowed into Ireland. Even in the midst of the banking and fiscal crisis and emigration surge, quietly, almost under the radar, foreign capital and brains continued to flow into Ireland. The most visible evidence of this lies in so-called “Silicon Docks”, situated in the rejuvenated docklands of Dublin port. This is the heart of Ireland’s information technology (IT) cluster. Long-standing investors in Ireland, such as IBM and Microsoft, have now been joined by the European, Middle Eastern and African headquarters of the biggest new names in software, online services and social media, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and LinkedIn.

But Ireland’s success riding the globalisation wave goes far beyond the new economy. Three other key sectors–pharmaceuticals, medical devices and financial services–have also enjoyed a tide of investment: eight of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies have a significant presence in Ireland centred on Cork, while half of the world’s top 50 banks and top 20 insurance companies operate out of the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin.

These investments did not happen overnight: Ireland’s policy makers have laid the ground to attract capital over decades, at least going back to the 1960s when, thanks partly to OECD advice, a major effort was made to boost education and promote Ireland as a European enterprise destination. By the 1990s, Ireland had developed high-value attributes for innovative global business that the latest financial crisis did not remove.

However, like riding the Aileens barrel, the globalisation wave requires a constant adjustment and flow of new ideas–witness the transformation of Ireland’s IT sector from hardware in the early 1980s to software in the 1990s and 2000s, and pharmaceuticals from basic chemicals to active ingredients.

Moreover, for all its progress, Ireland’s innovation system still lags behind other small advanced countries, such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, where business investment as a percentage of GDP is at least twice as high as in Ireland. Boosting this innovation dimension is the key to Ireland’s long-running goal to unlock greater spillovers from the huge pool of foreign investment to Irish-owned firms. Dublin’s Silicon Docks, Cork’s marine technology and Galway’s medical devices sector show what can be done as clusters of foreign and local firms, supported by fine universities and research centres. But more is needed.

Bluntly speaking, it’s either move up in the innovation system or move out. There is nothing automatic about linkages between the foreign and local firms–multinationals source worldwide along complex value chains. If locally owned firms succeed in these clusters, it is because they have developed smart products and services to sell and give their multinational clients an advantage over competitors. These spin-offs remain too limited, and spreading such successes requires tuning up the innovation system to better serve the needs of small dynamic firms, which are the harbingers of new, value-enhancing business in most cutting-edge economies.

Research organisations that focus on shorter-term product- and process-related research are required–Enterprise Ireland’s new Technology Centres have promising potential in this regard. Ireland has expanded its tax credit for research and development (R&D), and it has many features of international best practice. This is a clever step, since R&D tax credits don’t lead to the old trap of picking winners. However, tax credits assume a certain cash flow, which small start-ups might not have. Instead, direct R&D funding would suit smaller firms more, and some rebalancing of policy in this way would help them innovate. Building small firm capacity to absorb new ideas is also important; expanding industrial doctorate and master’s programmes that link enterprise to research institutions would generate a new cohort of entrepreneurs. Finally, generating spillovers from FDI requires patience, a lot of it–local firms only started to join the medical devices cluster a decade after the first core foreign investors arrived in Ireland.  

Even if Ireland gets all this right, it still faces the challenge of getting more people on board for the ride. Despite Ireland’s return to strong growth, a large group of people remains stranded on the beach, unable to reap the benefits. Long-term unemployment is all too high and the employment ratio is low at around 62%, compared with over 70% in Scandinavia and the UK. In Ireland there are high rewards for being educated–teachers’ salaries are among the highest in the OECD area, for instance–but stiff penalties for the less skilled. This gap, partly a consequence of Ireland’s globalised economy, contributes to the highest rate of inequality at market income in the OECD.

The fact that there is not more discontent and a more destabilising social divide owes something to Ireland’s generous tax and welfare system, which brings inequality down to around the OECD average. However, the social consensus that has long underpinned policy making is not beyond risk. For a start, welfare is expensive, requiring high taxation rates, even on relatively modest incomes. Strikingly, workers start paying almost the highest marginal income tax rate on around the average wage, compared to just over five times the average wage for the OECD as a whole.

Clearly, their tax would be better served developing the potential talent and perspectives of everyone, including those out of work, rather than funding welfare to such an extent that it keeps far too many people inactive in what risks becoming a two-speed Ireland. The solution is to get a wider cross-section of people back into activity. The government has started to advance this approach by adopting more active labour market policies. Improving training for the unemployed and reducing high marginal effective tax rates at low incomes (some families face a marginal effective tax rate of 60-70% on incomes between €16 000 and €32 000 per annum!) that penalise going out to work should now be priorities.

It is said that a crisis is an opportunity, and Ireland can emerge stronger and more innovative than before. If Ireland can create a world-class innovation system to bridge its foreign and domestic firms, while opening up the jobs ladder for everyone, it’ll handle the twists and rolls of the next the globalisation wave with aplomb.


Kennedy, Seán et al. (2015), “Taxes, income and economic mobility in Ireland: New evidence from tax records data”, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1269,OECD Publishing,

O’Connor, Brendan et al. (2015), “Searching for the inclusive growth tax grail: The distributional impact of growth enhancing tax reform in Ireland”, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1270, OECD Publishing,

OECD (2015), Economic Survey: Ireland, OECD Publishing

OECD (2015), OECD Economic Outlook, OECD Publishing

©OECD Observer No 305 January 2016

General Government

Text adopted – Maritime dimension of the common security and defence policy – P7_TA(2013)0380 – Thursday, 12 September 2013 – Strasbourg – Final edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Title V of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and in particular to Articles 42, 43 and 45 thereof,

–  having regard to Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 194 TFEU,

–  having regard to the European Security Strategy entitled ‘A Secure Europe in a Better World’, adopted by the European Council on 12 December 2003, and to the report on its implementation entitled ‘Providing Security in a Changing World’, endorsed by the European Council of 11-12 December 2008,

–  having regard to the European Integrated Maritime Policy of 2007 (COM(2007)0575) and its Progress Report of 2012 (COM(2012)0491),

–  having regard to the 7 October 2012 Declaration of the European Ministers responsible for the Integrated Maritime Policy and the European Commission, on a Marine and Maritime Agenda for growth and jobs, the ‘Limassol Declaration’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Maritime Security Strategy of 26 April 2010,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2013 on EU strategy for the Horn of Africa(1) ,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations and to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 10 December 1982,

–  having regard to the Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the arrangements for the implementation by the Union of the Solidarity Clause of 21 December 2012(2) ,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 7 June 2006 entitled ‘Towards a future Maritime Policy for the Union: European vision for the oceans and seas’ (COM(2006)0275),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 January 2011 on a sustainable EU policy for the High North(3) and to the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 26 June 2012 on Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region: progress since 2008 and next steps(4) ,

–  having regard to the European Defence Agency (EDA) Code of Conduct on Pooling and Sharing of 2012,

–  having regard to the Alliance Maritime Strategy adopted by NATO on 18 March 2011,

–  having regard to the Council Joint Action on a European Union military operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy off the Somali coast (Atalanta) of 2008(5) ,

–  having regard to the Council Decision on the European Union mission on Regional Maritime Capacity Building in the Horn of Africa (EUCAP NESTOR) of 2012(6) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2010 on civilian-military cooperation and the development of civilian-military capabilities(7) ,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Horn of Africa of 14 November 2011, and, in particular, to the Strategic Framework set out in the annex thereto,

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(8) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2013(9) on EU-China Relations,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 23 October 2008 on piracy at sea(10) and 10 May 2012 on maritime piracy(11) ,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0220/2013),

A.  whereas EU Member States comprise a coastline of over 90 000 kilometres in length bordering two oceans and four seas, in addition to overseas territories and national security installations throughout other oceans; whereas EU Member States are responsible for the control, security and safety of the European coastal and territorial waters, Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), continental shelf, maritime infrastructure and marine resources; whereas Member States have the responsibility of being the principal security provider for seafarers on ships flying their flag and for their citizens; whereas States’ inability to control their maritime space has consequences well outside their coastal and maritime zones;

B.  whereas the maritime boundaries of the Member States form the external borders of the European Union;

C.  whereas maritime spaces are open, vast and boundless, and are only limited by maritime jurisdictions; whereas maritime spaces are difficult to control, especially since international maritime law aims principally at facilitating trade and guaranteeing free movement;

D.  whereas 90 % of the EU’s external trade and 40 % of its internal trade is transported by sea; whereas the EU is the world’s leading maritime shipping actor, with European ship owners managing 30 % of the vessels and 35 % of world shipping tonnage – inter alia 55 % of container vessels and 35 % of tankers, representing 42 % of the value of global seaborne trade; whereas taken together the EU Member States constitute the world’s biggest EEZ (of around 25 million square kilometres);

E.  whereas any EU maritime strategy should first and foremost promote the basic principles laid down in Article 21 TFEU such as democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law; whereas States have a duty to endeavour to enforce and reinforce international law, particularly UNCLOS, and to guarantee the flow of maritime routes and the preservation of the Global Commons, and of commercial and environmental interests;

F.  whereas the importance of global maritime flows for the Union has increased exponentially as a result of economic growth, globalisation and growing global interdependence; whereas the geostrategic maritime balance is fast changing, with emerging powers adopting access denial technologies and strategies to assert themselves in regional and global maritime areas, constraining US and European access; whereas a more complex and diffuse maritime security environment with a loose and varied application of international treaties makes effective multilateralism and international cooperation in regulating maritime affairs more difficult; whereas it is in the EU’s interest to ensure maritime security not only in the waters off its coasts but throughout the world’s oceans and seas;

G.  whereas several factors such as poverty, lack of development, low levels of state control and law enforcement and the vulnerability of routes facilitate the proliferation of different types of threats to maritime security; whereas those threats can derive both from the behaviours of states interested in disturbing international maritime flows and from the illegal activities of non-state actors, such as transnational crime (e.g. arms or drugs trafficking), international terrorism or piracy, that exploit the weaknesses of a fragmented local, regional and global maritime governance system; whereas legal and illegal activities at sea have been growing in number and complexity as a result of this multiplication of actors present at sea making it increasingly difficult to distinguish legal activities from illegal ones; whereas this puts pressure on the EU to invest in a holistic approach in order to address the complexity of transnational challenges, which no Member State can meet alone;

H.  whereas the global outlook on naval capabilities and power projection is fast changing, with emerging and established powers increasingly calling into question UNCLOS principles, international arbitration and regulation; whereas, most significantly, China pursues its String of Pearls policy, endeavouring to increase and extend its presence at sea for a multitude of stated and unstated reasons, from securing trade and energy routes to controlling marine resources and maritime critical infrastructure, clashing with the maritime interests of virtually all of its neighbours in the South and East China Seas;

I.  whereas the EU and all its Member States are contracting parties to UNCLOS, and therefore the Convention constitutes part of the acquis communautaire;

J.  whereas, as a global actor, the EU must consider security challenges and possible autonomous responses, especially with regard to the nearby Mediterranean Sea, the Horn of Africa and West Atlantic areas, but also the Pacific, via East and West, and from the Arctic to the Antarctic;

K.  whereas illegal maritime non-state actors proliferate, threatening critical maritime routes and infrastructures and exploiting the weaknesses of states and their jurisdictions;

L.  whereas the fight against these non-conventional threats often takes place in challenging and dangerous environments, thus requiring both civilian and military means; whereas the CSDP, with both a civilian and a military dimension, is an appropriate framework to use to combat dangerous threats at sea and along the coast;

M.  whereas the EU cannot ensure global maritime security on its own; whereas it needs to achieve strong partnerships with third countries and regional organisations, especially in remote areas, for instance in Asia, where it is more difficult for the EU to deploy its own resources;

N.  whereas the European Security Strategy (ESS) does not refer specifically to the maritime dimension, except by identifying piracy as a threat to the EU; whereas the European Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) addresses maritime issues but barely touches upon the security dimension, thus leaving aside an area of increasing concern for the EU; whereas there is an imperative need to revise the EU approach to maritime security, notably with the adoption of a European Maritime Security Strategy (EMSS) clarifying how the IMP should contribute to the implementation of the ESS; whereas this EMSS should define the EU’s security interests and strategic goals, and identify objectives, risks, the available and necessary means for intervention, as well as possible theatres;

O.  whereas the EMSS is needed in order to mainstream the stakes, risks and opportunities that the Union faces at sea, including protection for European citizens and their assets; whereas that strategy should promote European values and principles, and must be forward-looking and proactive and mobilise all relevant institutions and actors, both civilian and military, and emphasise, in particular, the fact that EU Member States can no longer afford to develop and maintain naval capabilities with the sole objective of using them exclusively in potential high-intensity operations;

P.  whereas conflict and instability affecting the EU’s interest in open maritime flows and safe access require greater insight into the nexus between human security, state governance and development, and whereas the EU’s strategy for the Horn of Africa should therefore be used as a model for a comprehensive approach involving EU’s political, diplomatic, social, and economic tools; whereas this comprehensive approach must be at the core of the EMSS and should involve coordination among different EU initiatives, agencies and instruments, with a view to addressing the root causes of instability and helping to solve conflict, enforce peace and assist state-building, governance and development, including security sector reform, energy supply, maritime and other trade and transport security, fisheries and environment protection and the impact of climate change;

General remarks on a future European Maritime Security Strategy

1.  Strongly believes that the EU has a vital interest in a secure, open and clean maritime environment that allows the free passage of commerce and people and the peaceful, legal, fair and sustainable use of the oceans’ riches; that maritime flows represent the lifeblood of European trade and are conduits of European prosperity and influence; that the security of European citizens and the promotion of the principles of Article 21 TFEU are an EU and Member State responsibility; and that the EU institutional framework, both civilian and military, should, therefore, be further developed in order to provide for the objectives, means and capabilities necessary to meet that responsibility;

2.  Reminds Member States that only in a spirit of commitment, mutual understanding and genuine solidarity will the Union be able to fulfil its role as laid down in the Lisbon Treaty and its stated ambition to be a global security provider; recalls, in this connection, that Article 42(7) TEU (‘mutual defence clause’ or ‘mutual assistance clause’), Article 222 TFEU (‘solidarity clause’), and Article 42(6) TEU (permanent structured cooperation), introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, provide the institutional framework for effective solidarity among all the Member States in the field of security and defence of the Union; recalls that those instruments have yet to be implemented; commends, in particular, the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) for the Joint Proposal on the arrangements for the implementation by the Union of the solidarity clause and invites them to assess what this would entail in the event of it being activated to address any challenges at sea or involving maritime assets or infrastructure; urges the Council to swiftly approve this proposal;

3.  Underlines that UNCLOS provides the legal framework for all types of activities carried out in the oceans and seas and that it can serve as a guide for the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes; calls, therefore, on the EU and its Member States to promote the universality of the Convention and to insist on the need for uniform and consistent implementation of its provisions;

4.  Recognises that the European Union already possesses some of the necessary means and instruments to respond to global maritime security challenges and to the need for a secure and stable environment, through the EEAS and the European Commission, the financial instruments, development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, crisis management, trade cooperation, and other relevant tools for action; notes, however, that most of the technical and material assets are in the hands of Member States and that their willingness to enhance their cooperation is paramount for the future of European maritime security;

5.  Notes, however, that a European Maritime Security Strategy is needed to ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach, focusing specifically on the threats, risks, challenges and opportunities present at sea; that the EMSS, while grounded in European values and principles, must develop synergies and joint responses mobilising all relevant institutions and actors, both civilian and military; that the EMSS should identify all potential threats, from conventional security threats to those posed by natural disasters and climate change, from threats affecting the protection of vital marine resources to the security of maritime infrastructure and trade flows; that it must also identify the specific means and capabilities needed to address all challenges, including intelligence, surveillance and patrolling, search and rescue, sealift, evacuation of EU and other nationals from crisis zones, enforcing embargoes, and assistance to any CSDP-led missions and operations;

6.  Invites the High Representative, the Commission and the Council to elaborate an EMSS centred on articulation and coordination among all European actors and Member States relevant to maritime security; urges the Commission and the HR/VP, accordingly, to address the shortcomings of the 2007 IMP, which does not include a security dimension, as well as the limits of the ESS, which fails to tackle maritime security threats and risks; is of the view that the EMSS’s level of ambition, means and capabilities should be anchored in the ESS and the IMP and should be framed by the need to act as a global security provider, thereby ensuring free maritime flows and access on the high seas worldwide; highlights the fact that regulating maritime security will in the short, medium and long term affect all other components of European security and prosperity;

7.  Calls on Member States to closely assist and actively engage with the EEAS and the Commission in elaborating the new EMSS, with the aim of making efficient use of all their varied assets, as well as bearing in mind the identification and creation of new capabilities through pooling and sharing; furthermore, considers that the new strategy should also integrate joint bilateral or multilateral force creation initiatives such as the Franco-British Declaration of 2 November 2010;

8.  Highlights the fact that an integrated maritime approach such as this, which combines civilian instruments and military tools and encompasses both internal and external aspects of security, is already taking shape at national level in some Member States as well as being applied between certain Member States bilaterally, and should therefore be reinforced at Union level; stresses the role that can and should be played by maritime nations in fostering positive regional maritime integration; stresses that regional maritime integration initiatives can and should lead to the pooling and sharing of critical naval assets in order to meet the EU’s capacity needs;

Potential risks

9.  Acknowledges that increasing traffic at sea and the development of off-shore and coastal activities are challenging maritime security by making it increasingly difficult to distinguish legal activities at sea from illegal ones;

10.  Notes that the EU is facing conventional threats to its security, in particular since the emergence of new maritime powers has rendered more likely potential interstate rivalries over the ownership of maritime areas (disputes over jurisdiction, territorial claims, exploration and exploitation licences in Deep Sea Zones); notes, in addition, that emerging countries have developed their maritime capabilities (navies, submarines) and, at the same time, tend to call international maritime law principles into question;

11.  Warns against the illegitimate exploitation of important natural resources and minerals in EU Member States’ waters or in neighbouring seas; notes that the unmanaged race for marine, natural and mineral resources may have a damaging impact on the marine ecosystem, thus increasing the environmental impact of activities at sea; recalls that the exploitation of marine resources can also lead to an undesirable militarisation of maritime zones; however, emphasises the right of every Member State to engage in the exploration and exploitation of its marine natural resources, in a manner that complies with international law and environmental regulations;

12.  Notes that the EU needs to build strong partnerships with third countries and regional organisations in order to ensure the security and the stability of commerce and resource exploitation; highlights the fact that a strong maritime dimension of the CSDP would provide the EU with the ability to act as an effective international arbitrator when needed;

13.  Warns that states which are unwilling to cooperate with the international community and abide by international treaties and standards and which have the geographical position to block trade routes, as well as having the technological and military capabilities to do so, are one of the major maritime security concerns at this time; considers that all diplomatic attempts should be made by the EEAS and the HR/VP to engage with them in dialogue and cooperation;

14.  Notes that while State-versus-State military confrontations cannot be completely ruled out, direct and indirect risks to the security of the EU are mostly posed by non-conventional threats taking advantage of difficulties in enforcing the law in maritime zones, coastal areas and in general resulting from state failure, state fragility or lack of state control;

15.  Notes that one of the main threats to EU maritime security is the rise of maritime terrorist activities around the world that directly threaten EU civilian and military vessels, port facilities and energy installations and take advantage of the sea to attack and infiltrate land-based targets; notes that these actors interact with transnational organised criminal networks engaging in illegal activities at sea, such as smuggling, human trafficking, illegal immigration, drugs and weapons trafficking, including the trafficking of small arms, light weapons and WMD components; underlines the fact that such illicit activities worsen political and humanitarian crises, obstruct social and economic development, democracy and the rule of law, fuel deprivation and cause migration, internal displacement of people and immense human suffering;

16.  Is alarmed by increasing evidence that terrorist networks and non-state actors are acquiring sophisticated maritime capabilities, including submarine capabilities, radar and detection technologies, as well as having access to logistics data pertaining to the international shipping industry, mining capabilities and Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIEDs), thus significantly improving their threat potential and ability to escape control and indicating an expansion of their activities close to Europe, notably on both sides of the South Atlantic Ocean;

17.  Considers that the perpetuation of frozen conflicts near various maritime areas, such as the South Caucasus, South Eastern Mediterranean or the Sea of Japan, is one of the leading sources of instability worldwide, endangering transport and energy routes, promoting the weapons trade as well as facilitating the activities of non-state actors such as criminal networks and terrorist cells;

18.  Remains concerned by the piracy along the eastern and western African coastline; points out that pirate attacks (armed robbery, kidnapping of vessels and crews, and money extortion) are seriously hindering freedom of access and flow in those seas and thereby represent a considerable threat to international trade and maritime security; points out that piracy is generally a problem stemming from lack of governance and development of the coastal states concerned; hopes that the EU will build on the achievements of the CSDP operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta to launch CSDP operations to combat piracy elsewhere;

19.  Warns against the problems posed by piracy, international terrorism and organised crime in general for the security of navigation in vital maritime transit choke points; stresses that some of the most important waterways which ensure global energy supplies are geographically located in or accessed via some of the most unstable maritime zones, as is the case of the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca;

20.  Notes that the fight against non-conventional activities needs to rely on the whole range of CSDP instruments, including military, since interventions often take place in highly difficult landscapes, with actors having at their disposal a wide range of dangerous weapons; claims that, following the model of EU action in the Horn of Africa where the EUNAVFOR Atalanta operation and the EUCAP NESTOR operation are ongoing, CSDP operations must be accompanied by the other EU external instruments with a view to addressing the social, economic and political root causes of crises and ensuring sustainable security for the regions concerned;

21.  Notes that irregular migration is likely to continue putting pressure on EU maritime borders, especially in the light of political and economic evolution in the southern neighbourhood and the prospect of continued instability in northern Africa, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa; recalls, however, that migration must not be regarded as a security threat, but rather as a human phenomenon that requires a robust management strategy which combines regional, political and diplomatic cooperation and development policies and investment in regional partnerships; draws attention to the fact that this effort requires the development of maritime capabilities and coastguard activities to patrol and rescue migrants travelling on board illegal vessels;

22.  Acknowledges that increasing traffic at sea is likely to increase the potential for disasters such as oil spills and other environmental pollution incidents, toxic waste dumping and illegal oil bunkering; stresses that the EU must further develop a strategy that builds on past experience of serious environmental disasters at sea by ensuring that all EU actors, bodies and agencies, in combination with Member State authorities, intervene in a coordinated manner, with a view to creating the appropriate synergies, in a spirit of solidarity and more effective action;

Critical maritime zones

The Mediterranean

23.  Underlines the fact that the Mediterranean Sea presents an array of challenges that could potentially threaten the stability of the EU and direct EU interests, particularly given the political upheaval and social and economic hardship likely to persist in some of the coastal states; notes that illegal activities fostered in consequence, such as terrorism and all sorts of illicit trafficking, have an impact on the EU’s maritime security, including the security of energy supplies to the south; believes that investment in maritime regional cooperation is urgently required, and must involve European and regional cooperation, intelligence, surveillance, patrolling and coastguard activities, all of these requiring adequate means of naval power projection;

24.  Stresses that the Mediterranean is home to a number of regional conflicts involving maritime border disputes and therefore urges the EU to commit itself to avoiding the further escalation of conflict around the Mediterranean, which will amplify existing threats, such as the consequences of the civil war in Syria and the impact on its maritime zone and on that of neighbouring countries, the political instability and lack of governance capacities in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, the knock-on effect in neighbouring Morocco and Algeria, which are still at odds over the Western Sahara conflict and directly affected by the escalation of the conflict in Mali and the Sahel region; further alerts to the danger stemming from the interconnectedness of the crises in the Mediterranean and the instability and conflict in the Middle East, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa;

25.  Notes that the recent discoveries of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean have created a new geopolitical environment and significantly increased the potential for disputes, directly affecting the legitimate interests and sovereign rights of the EU Member States; expresses concern that Turkey, Russia, the US and Israel have increased their naval presence in the Mediterranean; further notes the implications of the unresolved disputes with Turkey in the Aegean and the escalation of tension resulting from the intended exploitation of Greek and Cypriot offshore hydrocarbon reserves; urges the EU, therefore, to act in asserting its position in order to avoid conflict over natural resources in the Mediterranean and consequential security threats for EU Member States in the area, which could ultimately affect the EU as a whole;

The Baltic Sea

26.  Notes that, barring the Russian sea areas, the Baltic Sea is an EU inland sea and a vital traffic route for several coastal states; notes that the stability of the Baltic Sea region and the smooth running of maritime transport depend on reconciling political interests, both of individual EU Member States and between the EU and Russia; notes that the political stability of the Baltic is bound up with matters related to protection of the position of language minorities in coastal states, energy transportation operations, the busy merchant shipping traffic, possible oil tanker accidents, and contamination of fish stocks and the environment; notes that further challenges are posed to maritime safety and security in the Baltic by the chemical weapons on the seabed, dumped after the end of the Second World War, the obsolete nuclear power plants along the shores, possible terrorist attacks on energy shipments, and possible illegal arms shipments via Baltic ports;

The Black Sea

27.  Believes that today the Black Sea is, in geostrategic terms, one of the most important maritime regions bordering the EU, namely in light of the need to ensure the EU’s energy security and the diversification of its energy supplies; notes that the region bears a high potential for risks in the medium and long term, given its strategic position as an important transport route for goods and energy, its proximity to volatile areas with protracted conflicts, such as the contested territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the related conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi; underlines the fact that, since the energy security of several EU Member States is heavily dependent on the security of gas and oil routes going through and near the Black Sea, the EU has a strategic interest in deterring the escalation of protracted regional conflicts and in identifying long-lasting solutions to them; points out that, for that purpose, the EU may need, when necessary, to mobilise European naval assets;

28.  Recalls its resolution of 20 January 2011 on an EU Strategy for the Black Sea(12) , and reiterates the need for the EU to play a more active role in shaping the Black Sea security environment; calls again on the Commission and the EEAS to draw up a strategy for the Black Sea region that effectively addresses maritime security and safety challenges;

29.  Highlights the need for an enhanced dialogue with strategic partners on conflict prevention and resolution but also stresses the importance of engaging in regional multilateral initiatives such as the Black Sea Synergy in order to tackle threats such as criminal networks involved in human, drugs and weapons trafficking or problems such as illegal fishing and environmental degradation;

The Atlantic Ocean and West Africa

30.  Notes that the Atlantic Ocean is Europe’s lifeline for trade; is concerned that the Atlantic, and in particular the Caribbean zone, is a route used for the transit of drugs coming from South America; is worried by the fact that the development of economic activities in the coming decades, notably with the enlargement of the Panama canal, could foster the rise of criminal activities in the zone;

31.  Believes that the West African coast, and specifically the Gulf of Guinea, today hosts some of the most substantial impending threats against Europe; is deeply concerned that along the West African coastline serious challenges are developing in relation to criminal activity, trafficking of drugs, human beings and weapons; concurrently, Gulf of Guinea countries are increasingly an operating ground for regional terrorist networks, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, whose actions spill over to neighbours and which are linked to networks with global outreach, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as the crisis in Mali is vividly illustrating;

32.  Notes with concern that countries in the Gulf of Guinea are subject to continued political instability, some facing state failure, as is the case of Guinea-Bissau, which has become a platform for drug trafficking originating in Latin America and targeting Europe;

33.  Notes that the region is also an important energy provider, since Gulf of Guinea countries currently account for 13 % of oil and 6 % of gas imports to the EU, with Nigeria being responsible for 5,8 % of total EU oil imports; expects the importance of the region to increase as a result of recent discoveries of offshore oil and gas reserves; worries, therefore, that competition for offshore natural resources may bring with it further conflict and criminal activity;

34.  Points out that instability, terrorism and criminality off the West African coast are deeply linked to instability in the Sahel region as a whole; urges the EU, therefore, in the context of the CSDP civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Niger, to integrate counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel region in a regional and comprehensive strategy to fight threats at sea off the West African coast, in particular in the Gulf of Guinea; in this connection, calls on the EU to ensure coordination between the two CSDP missions in the region – EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUTM Mali – as well as with the efforts on the mainland and those at sea, in order to fight terrorism and other organised crime in the region;

35.  Welcomes the announcement by the Commission of the Critical Maritime Routes in the Gulf of Guinea Programme (CRIMGO), which is aimed at improving the safety of the waters of the Gulf of Guinea by providing training for coastguards and setting up a network of information-sharing among the authorities of seven coastal states of West Africa, to be funded by the Instrument for Stability; calls for the swift implementation of CRIMGO off the West African coast; calls also for specific mechanisms for cooperation to be set up to link this Commission-funded programme and the CSDP missions EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUTM Mali, whose undertakings are intrinsically linked to the causes of instability off the Gulf of Guinea;

36.  Stresses that there is a need to enhance the effectiveness of EU activities in the Gulf of Guinea; suggests that specific synergies be created in order to bring added value from the articulation of existing EU instruments and structures such as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA);

37.  Calls on the HR/VP to map EU Member States’ and ACP partners’ facilities in strategic locations – such as the Lajes Air Base in the Azores, Portugal, and the Cape Verde islands – which may be used to develop specific naval and air operations to counter proliferation, terrorism, piracy and organised crime in the Gulf of Guinea and wider South Atlantic Ocean, in a three-way partnership involving transatlantic cooperation with the US, Canada, Brazil and other Latin American countries as well as EU-African Union cooperation;

The Gulf of Aden and the West Indian Ocean

38.  Points out that, because of piracy, the Gulf of Aden is today one of the most dangerous maritime areas in the world; recalls that piracy is a special form of organised crime that calls for a special, comprehensive and holistic approach which addresses the causal relationship between piracy and social, political and economic governance, as the Horn of Africa and Somalia contexts demonstrate in particular; notes that tracing the money flow from ransom payments, dismantling criminal networks and prosecuting the perpetrators are also crucial components of the fight against piracy and can only be achieved by reaping the benefits of cooperation between Member State authorities, Europol and Interpol; notes that herein lies a concrete link between external security policy and internal law enforcement;

39.  Welcomes the creation of the civilian CSDP mission EUCAP Nestor that is designed to strengthen maritime capabilities in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean, and which aims to provide a more sustainable and local contribution to achieving the objectives of operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta;

40.  Highlights the recent success achieved by EUNAVFOR Atalanta – which must continue – in curbing the occurrence of pirate attacks in the western Indian Ocean and in enhancing the credibility of the CSDP; notes that Operation Atalanta is the first ever CSDP naval mission and that it should constitute a model for the further development and implementation of the maritime dimension of the CDSP, taking stock of its successes, its shortcomings and lessons learned; welcomes the positive role taken by the EU with EUNAVFOR Atalanta in the SHADE (Shared Awareness and De-confliction) mechanism in promoting coordination between the multinational, national and regional naval forces operating in the area, and notably with NATO’s operation Ocean Shield; also welcomes the good cooperation between EU agencies (such as the EU Satellite centre SatCen and EMSA) and third actors, particularly in the field of satellite vessel imagery interpretation, even when there are no formal arrangements underpinning such cooperation; calls on the EU to formalise the bridging among existing EU tools and bodies, such as that developed among Atalanta, EMSA and SatCen, so as to avoid duplication of tasks, resources and expertise and to reap the clear operational benefits of such synergies;

41.  Stresses that the comprehensive approach concept, which in this particular case stems from the Strategic Framework Strategy for the Horn of Africa, is evident in the combination of the three ongoing CSDP missions in the region (EUNAVFOR Atalanta, EU Training Mission in Somalia and EUCAP Nestor), flanked by political engagement and development policies; welcomes the activation of the EU Operations Centre, with the aim of facilitating the coordination and strengthening the synergies among these missions, which represents a significant step in the development of CSDP; points out that this example of complementarity and coordination should inspire other such actions where CSDP missions and operations are engaged in response to a multifaceted problem; notes that a permanent military planning and conduct capability could only further enhance the integration of any naval component in CSDP missions and operations;

42.  Acknowledges the on-board protective measures set up by shipping companies; supports the recent requests from the maritime industry for private maritime security firms to be regulated and renews its call, firstly, on the International Maritime Organisation, flag states, and the maritime industry to work together to draw up a code of conduct laying down clear, consistent, and enforceable internationally agreed standards governing the use of privately contracted armed security guards on ships and, secondly, on private maritime security firms to act strictly in accordance with those standards;

The Arctic

43.  Stresses that the opening of the Arctic sea passages is a direct consequence of climate change, and highlights the fact that, first and foremost, the EU should invest itself in the preservation and conservation of the region and its critical environmental assets while ensuring that Arctic resources are utilised sustainably and in a manner that respects local populations; underlines the importance of overall stability and peace in the region; stresses, therefore, the need for a united, coordinated EU policy on the region, in which the EU’s priorities, potential challenges and strategy are clearly defined; highlights the fact that, alongside the Danish, Finnish, and Swedish interests in the Arctic, a future accession of Iceland to the EU would deepen the Union’s transformation into an Arctic coastal entity, underlining the need for an ever more coordinated Arctic policy at EU level; welcomes, in this regard, the aforementioned Joint Communication entitled ‘Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region: progress since 2008 and next steps’ and reiterates the need for a policy dialogue with all partners in the region, including Russia;

44.  Underlines the importance of the new trade routes through Arctic sea passages, including for the EU and its Member States’ economies; underlines the fact that the EU and its Member States should actively uphold the freedom of the seas and the right to free passage through international waterways; stresses that existing long-standing territorial disputes between Arctic states should be resolved peacefully and calls for greater EU involvement in the region and an assessment of what tools and capabilities might be needed to respond to conflict in the area; highlights, in any case, the need to avoid the militarisation of the Arctic; calls on the Commission to put forward proposals as to how the Galileo Project could benefit EU Arctic policy and how it could be developed to enable safer navigation in Arctic waters, thus investing in the safety and accessibility of the North East Passage in particular;

The Pacific Ocean

45.  Underlines the global importance of the Pacific Ocean, and notably of the South China Sea through which one third of the world’s trade is transported; is alarmed at the escalating tension, and urgently appeals to all the parties involved to refrain from unilateral political and military actions, to tone down statements and to settle their conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea by means of international arbitration, in accordance with international law, in particular UNCLOS, in order to ensure regional stability and the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea;

46.  Considers that a way forward for a possible peaceful resolution of the tension in the areas of the South and East China Seas is the negotiation and joint implementation of codes of conduct for the peaceful exploitation of the maritime areas in question, including the establishment of safe trade routes and quotas for fishing or attribution of areas for resource exploration;

47.  Calls on the HR/VP to identify the risks to peace and security if tension and armed conflict were to escalate in the East and the South China Seas;

48.  Notes that certain states, notably Australia, are already significantly active politically in the Pacific and that the EU should rely on bilateral and multilateral cooperation in order to ensure security and safety in the region;

49.  Stresses the importance of the enlargement of the Panama Canal, which should be completed in 2014, for changing the geostrategic maritime balance and the extraordinary opportunities that this will open up to the EU and Member States; warns that Member States’ shipping and port infrastructures should be prepared to face the predictable increase in maritime commercial flows and the security and safety risks entailed, arising inter alia from additional environmental stress and criminal activity; emphasises that this connection between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans could become a significant alternative transport route from Asia to Europe and vice-versa via the west;

Existing tools and capability development

50.  Strongly believes that the financial and economic crisis should be seen as an opportunity to implement the ‘Pooling and Sharing’ initiative in the field of maritime capability generation in a truly European manner, in particular by taking advantage of the LeaderSHIP 2020 initiative and fostering networking between operators in the shipbuilding and repair sector and the ancillary industries, which can contribute to maintaining credible military capabilities and is the only way to guarantee that Europe is able and fit to meet global security challenges affecting both its waters and its naval capabilities;

51.  Regrets the fact, however, that EU Member States have been imposing severe cuts in national defence budgets in response to the financial crisis and economic slowdown, and that such cuts, which are mostly uncoordinated at EU level and disregard the European Security Strategy, may entail serious consequences for the Union’s ability and preparedness to face maritime and other security challenges and meet international obligations, and hinder its role as provider of global security;

52.  Stresses that the ‘Pooling and Sharing’ priority put forth by the EU to bring about more coordination, smarter defence spending and greater economies of scale among the Member States, has yet to deliver results, including in the field of maritime security capabilities;

53.  Commends the work of the EDA in laying the groundwork for achieving ‘Pooling and Sharing’ through harmonising requirements and projects as regards naval training and logistics; welcomes the Wise Pen team’s 2012 study of maritime requirements and capabilities; in light of the EDA’s mandate and expertise, urges the Members States to resort to its advice and technical assistance when faced with the need to cut defence budgets, so as to avoid compromising strategic capability development across the EU, which needs to address gaps and shortfalls in a coordinated manner; encourages Member States to work with the EDA to identify capability needs, particularly civilian, military and dual-use capabilities in the maritime domain; urges the HR/VP, assisted by the EDA and DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, to identify all naval and maritime assets that meet the maritime capabilities and requirements of 2012 and which are at risk of being lost by EU Member States as a result of financial and economic constraints, and to look at ways to preserve them and put them at the service of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy and the future EMSS;

54.  Recalls that dual-use capabilities are necessary for the implementation of the CSDP, in light of the complex security challenges in today’s world; stresses that the current crises in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa have highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach that harnesses, on the one hand, the full range of civilian-military engagement and, on the other, dual-use equipment and capacities, including European naval capabilities and civilian and military shipbuilding capacities ensuring vessel security and resilience; invites the Member States to work with the appropriate EU bodies and agencies, notably the Commission, the EDA and the European Space Agency (ESA) in seeking EU funding for dual-use capability development, which is a way to fill in capability gaps at the national, regional and Union level; recalls the dual-use potential of the Galileo programme and its value for the implementation and effectiveness of CSDP operations, particularly in the maritime domain; stresses nonetheless that priority should be given to more transparency, efficiency and multilateral approaches in the field of capability development;

55.  Recalls the need for the consolidation of an EU-based and EU-funded technological base in the field of defence, including naval construction and equipment production capabilities; recalls, in light of the current economic and financial crisis, that the inception of, and support for, capable, self-sustainable European defence industries means the creation of jobs and growth; calls for a more qualitative dialogue with industrial stakeholders, as the development of naval capacities entails many years of commitment; stresses the need for EU Member States and the industry to rationalise and harmonise standards to ensure European operational compatibility in the field of maritime and naval capabilities, including communication systems and technology;

56.  Believes that the EDA’s Maritime Surveillance Networking (MARSUR) constitutes one such innovation, which brings added value to the development of the maritime dimension of the CSDP; strongly urges that appropriate fields of cooperation be established between MARSUR and other EU projects aiming at developing maritime surveillance, such as Copernicus – The European Earth Observation Programme (former GMES – Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), projects for marine and security services or EMSA’s work in maritime surveillance;

57.  Takes the view that the work developed by EMSA, ESA and the Copernicus programme can further serve to implement the maritime dimension of the CSDP, and should be formally put to that use; emphasises that their expertise puts them in an excellent position to provide services and support to ongoing CSDP missions in matters of surveillance, patrolling activities or the collection, study and dissemination of satellite information, inspired by the partnership developed, albeit informally, between EMSA and operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta;

58.  Calls for the creation of a truly European coastguard function, based on the experience already gained by Frontex and the European Patrol Network, to which distinct governmental bodies and entities provide capabilities, acting within a remit of case-law stemming from Justice and Home Affairs cooperation, aimed at protecting EU borders, European citizens and the lives of people in danger on the coastal waters of the Union;

59.  Commends the work done in the framework of the development of the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) to achieve an effective European maritime surveillance capacity; calls therefore on the EU to invest meaningfully in further developing the CISE framework, inspired by the experience gained with projects such as the MARSUNO, the BluemassMed and EUROSUR, with a view to being prepared to track, monitor and respond to maritime challenges in EU Member States’ waters or in the vicinity of the EU;

60.  Given that EU and NATO members have only one set of naval forces, calls for greater strategic coordination between the two organisations on maritime security; is of the view that the future EU Maritime Security Strategy should be independent of, yet complementary to, that of the Alliance in order to help tackle a maximum number of the abovementioned challenges while ensuring optimal use of the limited maritime assets; welcomes the positive results arising from the co-location of the two organisations’ Operational Headquarters at Northwood; believes that the EU should focus on the clear added value stemming from its comprehensive approach to dealing with multifaceted challenges, as demonstrated in the case of the diplomatic, financial and judicial follow-up to Atalanta’s effective fight against piracy; calls for further improvements in information-sharing between NATO and the EU, as well as enhanced coordination with other international actors;

61.  Regrets the fact that the situation which persists today is one of duplication, overlap, waste of resources and turf war among EU bodies and agencies working in the field of maritime security; urges the EU to further study ways in which it can reduce the administrative and financial burden stemming from useless overlap of functions, expertise, equipment and resources among several EU bodies and actors, thus enabling the HR/VP to assert her coordinating function;

62.  In this light, calls for coordination and articulation efforts to be mainstreamed into the EU Maritime Security Strategy, in which clear guidelines should be outlined for specific cooperation between relevant Commission Directorates-General, including Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Home Affairs, Justice, Enterprise and Industry, Mobility and Transport, Taxation and Customs Union, Research and Innovation, and Development, as well as the European External Action Service and the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments; the same should be done for inter-agency cooperation between the EDA, EMSA, SatCen, Europol, Frontex, the EU Military Staff, the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate, the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre and the relevant authorities in the Member States;

63.  Welcomes the activities of the Chiefs of European Navies (CHENS) in promoting understanding between European navies and examining issues of mutual interest; calls for the results of the CHENS annual meetings and its specialised working groups to nourish the EU Maritime Security Strategy and its implementation at the CSDP level in order to foster further cooperation and ensure an integrated and effective approach;

64.  Invites the forthcoming Defence European Council in December 2013 to adopt an EU Maritime Security Strategy that includes the views of the European Parliament as expressed in this report; reminds the Member States that today’s world and, particularly, its challenges and threats call for consistent, coherent and cogent action to protect the 500 million EU citizens; recalls that these challenges also demand an EU foreign policy that is founded on the need for, and promotion of, peace and security worldwide;

o   o

65.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, the Council, the Commission, the parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of NATO and the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

(1)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0006.
(2)JOIN(2012)0039 – 2012/0370(NLE)
(3)OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 71.
(5)OJ L 301, 12.11.2008, p. 33.
(6)OJ L 187, 17.7.2012, p. 40.
(7)OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 7.
(8)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0455.
(9)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0097.
(10)OJ C 15 E, 21.1.2010, p. 61.
(11)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0203.
(12)OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 81.
General Information

Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on Climate Change and National Security at Stanford University – As Prepared for Delivery

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice
Remarks on Climate Change and National Security
Stanford University

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hello, Stanford!  It’s great to be back.  Thank you, President Hennessy, for your very kind words and for welcoming me today.  And, President Hennessy, on behalf of Stanford alums everywhere, thank you for your years of dedicated service to this great institution that we love so much.  It will be very hard to fill your shoes. 

Now, the last time I spoke at Stanford, it was to a massive audience at graduation over in the stadium.  I am assuming you all will be just as enthusiastic, if perhaps a bit more sober.  I do miss the costumes though.

I am ashamed to admit: it’s been almost 30 years since I graduated.  But, every time I visit, the memories come rushing back.  I met my husband here.  I made friends for life here.  I enrolled in courses and took up causes that ultimately shaped the direction of my career.  I even had the dubious fortune to witness “The Play” first hand.  That was my freshman year.  It was unbelievably traumatic. 

I love this place.  Where else but Stanford does your time start with a Band Run and end with a Wacky Walk?  Where else but Stanford can you travel to Narnia, the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, and Mars on your bike?  Where else but Stanford does the sentence: “I finished my HumBio and SymSys work so let’s hop in the Claw or maybe just hit up the CoHo to grab some EANABs” even make sense?   

Learning all those acronyms is actually pretty good training for government work.  And, if you look around the halls of the National Security Council today, you’ll see that Stanford’s training pays off.  Our Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change—Stanford ‘99.  Our Senior Director for Resilience Policy, who helps communities adapt to climate change—Stanford ‘78.  My Senior Advisor and my Speechwriter—both of them Stanford ‘05.  And, of course, the former NSC Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia and our former Ambassador to Moscow – Stanford ‘86 – my good friend and classmate, Professor McFaul.  So when I decided to give a speech about how climate change impacts our national security, we knew where to come. 

Our world has changed dramatically since I left Stanford.  And not just the fact that there’s no more Meyer Library.  When I was a student, the men who held my job—and back then, they were all men—had one overarching concern:  the Soviet Union.  National security centered on winning the Cold War and averting nuclear Armageddon.  Climate change wasn’t on the radar.  But that didn’t mean people hadn’t begun to sound the alarm. 

In 1985—fall quarter of my senior year—scientists from around the world met to express concern that a buildup of greenhouse gasses, and specifically carbon dioxide, would result in “a rise of global mean temperature…greater than any in man’s history.”  By 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its first report, detailing how a warming climate would affect our ecosystem.  There have since been four more reports, each with more sophisticated science to support ever more dire warnings.

So, it’s not that we didn’t see climate change coming.  It’s that for the better part of three decades we failed, repeatedly, to treat this challenge with the seriousness and the urgency it deserves.  As an international community, we succumbed to divisive global politics that set developing countries against industrialized nations and stymied international consensus on climate change. 

At home, we succumbed to divisive domestic politics that allowed entrenched interests to push a calculated agenda of doubt, denial, and delay.  And, we focused, quite understandably, on other critical national security priorities—from coming to grips with globalization, halting proliferation, and above all, keeping the American people safe in a post-9/11 world. 

Like my predecessors, as National Security Advisor, I deal daily with the full range of global challenges that demand American leadership: countering ISIL, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups; addressing crises in Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan; opposing Russian aggression against Ukraine; beating back the Ebola epidemic; confronting increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.  In just the past few months, we’ve reached an historic deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, begun a new chapter of engagement with the Cuban people, negotiated the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership to support American jobs, and set a new agenda of sustainable development goals to end the injustice of extreme poverty.   

We are seizing opportunities and meeting challenges head on.  And, today, we face no greater long-term challenge than climate change, an advancing menace that imperils so many of the other things we hope to achieve.  That’s why, under President Obama, we have put combatting climate change at the very center of our national security agenda.

The science is not up for debate.  I know you are not the crowd that needs to be convinced—you’re living it.  Here at Stanford, you were almost close enough to smell the wildfires.  Some redwoods and eucalyptus trees around campus are dying from drought.  As for those who remain unconvinced—I’d suggest they are either not paying attention, or they’re not living on the same planet as the rest of us. 

In the past 15 years, we’ve had 14 of the hottest years on record—which is exactly the kind of change those climate scientists back in 1985 suggested we could be seeing by now.  Last year, 2014, was the hottest.  And, scientists say there’s a 97 percent chance that we’ll set a new record again this year.  The seas have risen about eight inches over the past 100 years, and they’re now rising at roughly double the rate they did in the 20th century.  Arctic sea ice is shrinking.  Permafrost is thawing.  The Antarctic ice shelf is breaking up faster than anticipated.  Storms are getting stronger.  Extreme precipitation events are becoming more frequent.  Heat waves are growing more intense.  The bottom line is this:  we’re on a collision course with climate impacts that have inescapable implications for our national security.  Let me sketch out a few of them.

First, climate change is a direct threat to the prosperity and safety of the American people.  We’re losing billions of dollars in failed crops due to extreme drought.  Millions of acres of forest have been lost to fire.  In addition to longer fire seasons and drier summers here in the West, on the East Coast we’re seeing record rain events.  Last week in the Carolinas, unprecedented amounts of rain fell—enough in just five days to put a serious dent in California’s multi-year drought.  And, while we can’t say that climate change is the direct cause of any specific weather event, these are exactly the trends that we expect to see more of, if climate trends continue on their current trajectory.

Along our coasts, we’ve got thousands of miles of roads and railways, 100 energy facilities, communities of millions—all of which are vulnerable to sea-level rise.  Remember Super Storm Sandy—how it hobbled America’s largest city and plunged everyone south of 34th Street into darkness for days?  We saw a cascading failure of infrastructure.  Water flooded an electrical substation, and backup power was either flooded or insufficient.  Over 6,000 patients had to be evacuated from powerless hospitals down stairwells.  Transportation broke down, because you can’t pump gas without electricity.  Wastewater treatment plants shut down.  One critical sector pulled down other vital systems.  And, with warmer oceans and higher seas, New York City will have to be prepared for Sandy-level flooding to happen every 25 years. 

When I visited Alaska with President Obama last month, we saw rapidly disappearing glaciers and a native community whose island home is already being washed away.  The question for them is not if they will have to abandon their traditional homes and way of life, but when.  These are real threats to our homeland security, and they’re happening now. 

Second, climate change will impact our national defense.  We’ve got military installations that are imperiled by the same rising seas as our civilian infrastructure.  Here in the western United States, ranges where our troops train are jeopardized by heat and drought.  In fact, this summer we had to cancel some training exercises, because it got too hot. 

Climate change means operating in more severe weather conditions, increasing the wear on both service members and their equipment.  There will also be new demands on our military.  A thawing Arctic means 1,000 miles of Arctic coastline and new sea lanes to secure.  Around the world, more intense storms—like the massive typhoon that decimated part of the Philippines two years ago—will mean more frequent humanitarian relief missions.  And, our military will have to deal with increased instability and conflict around the world. 

That’s a third major national security concern, because climate change is what the Department of Defense calls a “threat multiplier”—which means, even if climate change isn’t the spark that directly ignites conflict, it increases the size of the powder keg.  A changing climate makes it harder for farmers to grow crops, fishermen to catch enough fish, herders to tend their livestock—it makes it harder for countries to feed their people.  And humans, like every other species on this planet, scatter when their environment can no longer sustain them.  As the Earth heats up, many countries will experience growing competition for reduced food and water resources.  Rather than stay and starve, people will fight for their survival. 

All of these consequences are exacerbated in fragile, developing states that are least equipped to handle strains on their resources.  In Nigeria, prolonged drought contributed to the instability and dissatisfaction that Boko Haram exploits.  The genocide in Darfur began, in part, as a drought-driven conflict.  In the years prior to civil war breaking out in Syria, that country also experienced its worst drought on record.  Farming families moved en masse into urban centers, increasing political unrest and further priming the country for conflict.  In fact, last year, a Stanford research group determined that a rise in temperature is linked with a statistically significant increase in the frequency of conflict.  There is already an unholy nexus between human insecurity, humanitarian crises, and state failure—climate change makes it that much worse.   

Around the world, more than 100 million people now live less than one meter above sea level—including entire island countries in the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.  Consider the impacts—to the global economy and to our shared security—when rising seas begin to swallow nations whole. 

Fourth, we face spreading diseases and mounting threats to global health.  Already, more mosquito-borne diseases are spreading from the tropics to temperate zones as climates warm.  Viruses like West Nile and Chikungunya are growing more prevalent in the United States.  India is currently in the grip of the worst dengue fever outbreak in years.  Livestock diseases are expanding northward into Europe.  These advancing diseases cost billions of dollars a year to treat and contain, not to mention the immeasurable cost in human lives and suffering.   

Finally, we cannot dismiss the worst-case predictions of catastrophic, irreparable damage to our environment.  If the Greenland ice sheet melts, seas could rise not just the one to four feet many scientists predict, but eventually as much as 20 feet.  If the oceans continue to acidify, it will devastate the marine biome—destroying coral reefs, compromising the food chain, and imperiling a major source of protein for 3 billion people worldwide. 

These aren’t marginal threats.  They put at risk the health and safety of people on every continent. 

But I’m not here today to preach doom and gloom.  I’m here because we’re at an inflection point—a moment where consensus is building, and 30 years of foot-dragging can be replaced by a sprint to a low-carbon future. 

Attitudes are shifting.  Behaviors are changing.  We are embracing the necessity to lead, to innovate, to solve this problem.  President Obama has elevated climate change to a defining imperative of both our foreign and domestic policies.   He understands our responsibility to future generations.  Because, in the President’s words, “there is such a thing as being too late.”  We have to act now to mitigate the effects of climate change by rapidly reducing our carbon emissions.  That is the only way we will avert disaster scenarios, even as we must adapt to those impacts we can no longer avoid. 

Over the past six years, action has accelerated on all fronts.  Green technology is becoming more affordable and widespread.  Over the weekend, I visited the Tesla factory in the East Bay.  Now, that’s not yet what anyone would call affordable—but the technology they and so many other innovative companies are pioneering is helping change the way we think about clean energy, electric vehicles, and the infrastructure we need to support them.  We’ve even got an electric car charging station on West Executive Avenue now, right outside my window in the West Wing.

Today—in part because of historic investments made by the Obama administration—the United States harnesses three times as much electricity from wind and twenty times as much from the sun as we did in 2008.  By 2025, we’ll have nearly doubled the fuel efficiency of our cars.  We’ve set new conservation standards for our commercial buildings.  With the energy we’ll save thanks to more efficient appliances, we could power an additional 30 million homes.  All told, our new efficiency standards will reduce our carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons by 2030.  And, over the past several years, we have shown that we can successfully bring down the rate of emissions and grow our economy at the same time.

When President Obama issued our first ever Climate Action Plan two years ago, it invigorated America’s domestic action on climate change.  The President’s Clean Power Plan will reduce, for the first time, the amount of carbon existing power plants put into the atmosphere—32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  That’s the most significant step ever taken by a president to combat climate change domestically.  We’ve developed strategies to reduce our methane emissions and potent greenhouse gases known as HFCs.  And, we’ve created plans to manage the increased risk of floods, droughts, and wildfires and to improve resilience in our communities at all levels. 

Obviously, to truly meet this this challenge, we need the rest of the world to act with us.  We’re all in this together.  Yet, American leadership under President Obama has been crucial to galvanizing many countries—particularly the major carbon emitters—to step up to the plate and move beyond the ideological shackles of the past. 

One of the critical advancements of the new U.N. Sustainable Development Goals is the recognition that waiting to act on climate change will only make it harder to reduce extreme poverty.  The U.S. has been equally clear that we view our climate and development strategies as mutually reinforcing.  Last year, President Obama ordered that all our international development projects be designed from the outset with climate impacts in mind.  That’s because we know our efforts to strengthen food security won’t succeed, if farmers aren’t planting drought- and salt-resistant seeds.  In fact, left unaddressed, climate change could very well undo many of the development gains the world has made.

So, the United States is again leading the charge.  We’re helping countries around the world improve their resilience to climate change.  Our climate assistance already reaches more than 120 nations, and our $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund is our latest commitment to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries tackle climate change.

Seven weeks from now, world leaders will gather in Paris to finalize a strong and comprehensive post-2020 agreement for climate action.  This isn’t our first or even our fifteenth attempt.  Paris is the twenty-first gathering of the international community to address climate change.  But after two decades of negotiations, Paris is our best opportunity to shift our approach toward climate change permanently and to embrace cooperative solutions to a truly global problem. 

Thanks to concerted and sustained American leadership, I believe we are in a position to achieve a meaningful agreement in Paris.  Last year, the United States and China—the world’s two largest economies and two largest emitters—surprised the world with an historic announcement, which broke the long-standing barriers separating the way developing and developed economies approach climate change.  Both our countries set ambitious new emissions targets.  The United States committed to reduce our emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, doubling the pace at which we are cutting emissions now.  For the first time, China committed to peak its total emissions around 2030 and to set ambitious targets for rolling out clean energy.  And, last month, during President Xi’s state visit, both our countries unveiled concrete plans for achieving those targets. 

Strong U.S. leadership has spurred other nations to make bold commitments as well.  We’ve now secured ambitious post-2020 targets from more than 140 countries representing more than 85 percent of global emissions.  Major emitters like the EU, Brazil, and Mexico have been joined by small island nations and least developed countries, all pledging to do their part. 

Of course, setting ambitious targets is essential, but it’s not nearly enough.  Paris must deliver a long-term framework that ratchets down future emissions over time—one where all countries commit to act, consistent with their circumstances, and where strong transparency and accountability measures apply to everyone.  Paris must also support poor countries as they continue developing on a low-carbon trajectory.  We’re already more than 60 percent of the way toward meeting our goal of mobilizing $100 billion in public and private sector climate financing for developing countries by 2020.  That’s important progress, but we’ve got more to do, including in Washington.

For so many reasons, it’s critical that Congress pass a budget that reverses sequestration.  One reason is that we must continue to adequately fund our multilateral climate initiatives—including our commitment to the Green Climate Fund—and demonstrate the responsible American leadership that this issue demands. 

Paris is the proximate milestone in a mission that will be passed from my generation to the next and the next.  So, let’s fast-forward a few decades, to 30 years from now when one of you sitting in the audience today might have my job.  What will you say to a room full of students with their whole futures ahead of them? 

I hope you will be able to tell them that you remember when the world finally came together to preserve the one Earth we all must share.  I hope you will have only distant memories of the stale but pitched battles over basic science and established facts.  And, most importantly, I hope you will have a plan to chart the next chapter of American global leadership on climate change.

In the meantime, we need you.  Among you, perhaps, are the innovators who will develop the green technologies that will make clean energy universally available to a future world population of 9 billion people and that will eventually put the last internal combustion engine in a museum.  Among you are the engineers who will bolster climate resilience in our communities here at home—strengthened sea walls, protected and restored coastal wetlands, smarter infrastructure.  Among you are the agricultural scientists who will pioneer another green revolution, developing seeds adapted for specific climate and soil conditions and advanced micro-forecasting techniques that will allow farmers to adjust their crops field by field.    

We know you are uniquely up to the challenge.  After all—where else but Stanford can you study with experts like Chris Field and Liz Hadly, who are deepening our understanding of climate change impacts?  Where else but Stanford can you discover that mealworms could be the answer to our problem with plastic refuse, and that their waste can even be used as compost for crops?  Where else but Stanford can you develop the problem-solving and advocacy skills to litigate, legislate, and negotiate the policies that will define the future? 

So, today, I’d like to leave you with a charge:  put your Stanford educations to work to help us meet this critical global challenge.  Find ways to fight climate change.  Find the work you are passionate about, and make this part of it. Because, just as President Obama and I have a responsibility to you—to try to make sure the world you inherit is not plagued by problems left too long, by threats grown too large—you have a responsibility to those who will follow you. 

You have been blessed with great capacity to make a difference in this world, and here, you are being given the tools and the training to put it to work.  This is a place where you can dedicate yourself—your brilliance, your creativity—to transforming the most vexing problems into unforeseen opportunities.  I know you can do it, and I can’t wait to see the future that you will help build.  Thank you.