News
24 February 2022

CIC member and former US Deputy National Security Advisor Dr. Nadia Schadlow says Climate Intelligence important for ‘preventing instability’

Dr. Claire Huck

By Dr. Claire Huck

CIC member and former US Deputy National Security Advisor Dr. Nadia Schadlow says Climate Intelligence important for ‘preventing instability’

In October 2021, Cervest launched the Climate Intelligence Council (CIC), a body of highly-respected science, technology, finance and policy experts united by a shared mission: to empower communities, businesses and economies with the knowledge and tools they need to build resilience against climate change.

Since its launch, I have been interviewing the CIC’s members to explore their exciting careers, their passion for our environment, and their commitment to advancing adaptation with our changing climate. This post features my discussion with former US Deputy National Security Advisor, Dr. Nadia Schadlow.

Dr. Schadlow is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution and MITRE. She is a former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy and was the chief architect of the United States’ 2017 National Security Strategy. She holds a BA in government and Soviet studies from Cornell University, and an MA and PhD from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at John Hopkins University.

In this interview, Nadia shares her views on the impact of decarbonization on developing economies, how Climate Intelligence adds value in the security space, and what inspired her to join the Climate Intelligence Council.

Can you share with us what you are working on in the climate space right now?

As a national security expert, one of my goals is to ensure that the geopolitical risks of climate change are considered broadly and in their proper context. For instance, for some economies the transition to renewable energy sources as part of global decarbonization efforts will be highly disruptive unless interim energy sources can be found that are cleaner than coal yet provide reliable baseload capacity. As we’ve seen in the recent past, even advanced energy markets such as California and Texas can be hobbled by intermittent electrical service. 

For some markets, the interim step may be natural gas and for others, advanced nuclear may be the answer. But in all cases, reliable energy is a prerequisite for stability and unreliable power is a precursor of volatility – and heightened risk.

"As we’ve seen in the recent past, even advanced energy markets such as California and Texas can be hobbled by intermittent electrical service."

Dr. Nadia Schadlow

From your perspective, what should organizations be doing today and what actions should be taken to alleviate climate risk?

Analysts and organizations must start by understanding the realities of decarbonization in developing and industrialized economies, so that they can make clear-eyed assessments of the risks as well as the benefits of moving swiftly toward a carbon-neutral society. 

There is a fine balance between building resilient, future-proofed economies, and protecting more vulnerable countries and communities from more immediate instability due to faltering development and growth. For example, while climate is a global problem, organizations and policy leaders need to work at the country and regional level to help countries and specific sectors within a country to make the shift towards cleaner forms of energy.

"There is a fine balance between building resilient, future-proofed economies, and protecting more vulnerable countries and communities from more immediate instability due to faltering development and growth."

Dr. Nadia Schadlow

Why do you believe that Climate Intelligence is so critical to the climate risk debate?

Extreme weather events are also an opportunity to help educate the public on climate risk. The more you can educate members of the public by calling on their personal experience, the stronger the support we can build for policy decisions. People need access to information that is relatable, that has context in their own lives.

You're one of the first members of the Cervest Climate Intelligence Council - what led you to join the initiative?

I was impressed by Cervest’s clear goals to empower everyone with the knowledge they need to make Climate Intelligent decisions and the cutting-edge technology and scientific research that it has developed to achieve those goals. But most importantly, I was impressed by the drive, vision and excellence of its founders.

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