The National Security Dividend of Global Carbon Mitigation

Bryan K. Mignone

Energy and environmental security objectives are often conflated in political circles and in the popular press. Results from a well-established integrated assessment model suggest that policies designed to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations at levels above ~500 ppm generally do not align with policies to curb global oil dependence, because these atmospheric objectives can be achieved largely through reductions in global coal consumption. Policies designed to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at levels below ~500 ppm, on the other hand, directly facilitate the alignment of environmental and security objectives because atmospheric targets in this range demand significant reductions in both coal and oil use. Greater recognition that investment in carbon mitigation can yield significant security dividends may alter the political cost-benefit calculus of energy-importing nations and could increase the willingness of some key global actors to seek binding cooperative targets under any post-Kyoto climate treaty regime.