The link between national security and climate change in Asia


The White House is preparing to launch Leaders’ Summit on Climate President Joe Biden will host it starting Thursday. 40 world leaders were invited to participate in the two-day series of talks on climate and emissions Washington Post Anonymous sources have quoted that the Biden administration is expected to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by at least 50 percent by 2030.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to be among the leaders present and in a rare statement of cooperation amid growing tensions on other issues – including Taiwan, trade, and measures in the South China Sea – the United States and China issued a memorandum. Joint statement Ahead of the summit, they pledged to cooperate and make urgent progress on climate issues.

As part of a special climate series in partnership with The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and expert Cipher Brief Kristen WoodIn Cipher Brief, focus on national security links to climate change.

On the eve of the authors summit Sarang Shidor, Shiloh Fitzik, and Rachel Fleishman look at the threat in Asia and Southeast Asia and make specific recommendations to the US national security community.

Climate change as a security threat in Asia

Traditionally, climate security analysis has focused on vulnerable populations in fragile states. However, climate change is also intensifying competition for food, water, energy and other shared resources among neighboring countries, and threatens military and other security-sensitive installations.

Two recent reports, Centered on Southeast Asia And the South AsiaOf the International Military Council’s Group of Experts on Climate and Security, stress both sides of the climate security challenge and affirm that it is fundamental to the national security of the United States. The reports reveal complex security challenges looming that will require the United States, as one of the primary stakeholders in the stability and balance of power in Asia, to become more involved in preventing destabilizing outcomes in the region. These findings include an exacerbation of potential tensions in the South China Sea, rivalries between China, India, India and Pakistan, increased opportunities for violent extremist organizations, and internal instability exacerbated by adverse climate impacts.

Southeast Asia

Geostrategic tensions in Southeast Asia, underlying security challenges, urban vulnerabilities, and competition for resources will be further affected by climate impacts such as extreme weather, floods, sea level rise, heat waves and fish migration.

Southeast Asian societies have traditionally shown their resilience in the face of disasters, but the increasing frequency and intensity of storms and floods, exacerbated by rising sea levels, will jeopardize human and economic security in the region to the point that governments may struggle to deal with them. Super Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda, which caused nearly 8,000 deaths in the Philippines in 2013, heralds new and dangerous extremism. Climate variability is also likely to disrupt the management of transboundary resources, for example along the Mekong River and the South China Seas, challenging existing arrangements to adapt to new realities. How these changes are managed will shape diplomatic relations and the legitimacy of governments in an unpredictable world. The impacts on food security, livelihoods and human development are likely to frustrate the expectations of a young and growing population.

The major coastal cities in Southeast Asia are the basis for the stability and security of their countries. Recent analyzes have tripled Estimates Of people exposed to sea level rise and coastal inundation. Major infrastructure and governance challenges will affect human development, security and stability in the region.

Climate change is adding pressure to competing regional claims in SCS, which is a flashpoint for the geostrategic competition between China, its neighbors and the United States. I have the SCS 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas In proven and probable reserves. Fishing provides a mainstay of regional food systems and local economies, but climate change will accelerate its deterioration. Chinese armed ships have Vietnamese and Filipino fishing boats attacked Near the Spratly Islands and the disputed Paracel Islands, boats were expelled and sometimes their crews were held hostage. The US Department of Defense has criticized China for arming a marine militia alongside its Navy and Coast Guard.

South Asia

Southern Asia is among the regions most vulnerable to climate change, due to the magnifying impacts of floods, droughts, hurricanes, coastal floods and thermal rises. These threats have security implications at the local level, which could bolster protests, insurgencies, and the politicization of migration. Climate change also contributes to international security risks in the region, in particular the competition for transboundary waters between nuclear powers India and Pakistan (over the Indus River Basin) and China and India (mainly over the Brahmaputra River Basin). The changing climate affects both river basins by increasing the intensity of rainfall leading to increased flooding, flow variability, increased silt loads, and dam construction projects that increase mistrust among the contenders’ husbands.

India and Pakistan have the advantage of a long-standing agreement, and Indus Water Treaty. However, the treaty has come under increasing pressure in recent years. Souring relationships Relations between India and Pakistan have been the main culprit, despite the recent thaw. Climate change, among other environmental factors, is stimulating Indian dam designs (especially on the Chenab River) that can cumulatively achieve a high level of storage capacity that can be manipulated, even as increased water stress in Pakistan encourages misconceptions of Indian responsibility. The dispute between India and China over flood-prone Brahmaputra (known as Yarlung Tsangpo in China) is a more recent development. The basin lacks a core water treaty, to the detriment of future disputes. China, as the upstream actor in this case, is building a number of dams, including 60 gigawatts The project is planned in Great Bend To the river.

China’s clean energy commitments, driven by climate change in turn, are driving the expansion of hydropower projects such as Great Bend. Climate change is also likely to increase flood intensity in the Indian state of Assam. These developments may stimulate India’s perceptions of Chinese water manipulation, whether such manipulation occurs or not. China’s historical lack of transparency about cross-border river projects is not helping.

The rivalry between China and India has intensified since violent clashes on their disputed borders in June 2020. Preventing escalation is a national interest of the United States. At the same time, the United States is increasingly focusing on India in its strategy to counter the growing Chinese power, creating a complex security triangle between the three countries.

China factor

China plays an active role in nearly all major interstate competition in the region, and is also a major source of carbon emissions, despite its recent pledge to achieve “net-zero” status by 2060. The relationship between the United States and China promises to be tough, with President Biden predicting “Intense competition” and security gatherings such as the quadripartite security dialogue that expands agendas that implicitly seek to confront Beijing.

Yet China and the United States agree on more than just disagreeing on climate change. Both countries are facing increasing natural disasters and using civilian and military capabilities to respond. Collaboration between their military and civilian agencies on climate-related issues can be a necessary mechanism to stabilize a relationship at risk.

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Recommendations for the US National Security Community

Such as Reports indicateThese complex climate-enhancing challenges, combined with the Biden government’s holistic approach to climate, represent a new assignment for US national security experts. US allies and rivals in the Indo-Pacific watch to see how the administration’s strategy is manifesting in their region. To advance the national interest of the United States, national security actors should:

  • Encouraging regional military, intelligence, and security actors To integrate climate change projections and potential impacts into security planning, training, and operations in a comprehensive and systematic manner. Joint US-hosted disaster preparedness and response exercises could be “upgraded” to include more predictive modeling, scenario analysis, and gaming, to increase preparedness for the security challenges posed by climate change.
  • Urging the region’s governments To anchor climate security objectives in all relevant regional forums. ASEAN, the East Asia Summit, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, and the quadripartite security dialogue could begin to coordinate data exchange, planning, financing and emergency response protocols.
  • Engage China, as the most important Asian player, to ensure that it is an essential part of the solution. Given the sensitivities related to sovereignty, the first step is to explore collaboration on sharing data and interpreting data on potential rapidly emerging climate impacts. Ultimately, the collaboration can extend to HA / DR. Including China as a climate stakeholder can help build confidence even in conflict between the United States and China elsewhere.
  • Engage with officials at other US government agencies on climate security matters. The national security community in the United States can build partnerships with energy, trade, and treasury, as well as the scientific community on the relationship between climate change and national security.

The geopolitics of climate reached the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Dealing with climate security provides a pathway for the United States to regain its regional leadership role, while enhancing stability and human security in the region.

Shidor’s den He is a Senior Fellow at the Strategic Risk Board in Washington, DC, and a Senior Research Analyst at Lyndon B. College. Johnson Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin is an independent consultant in geopolitical risk and climate / energy transitions.

Shiloh Ftsik Senior Fellow in International Affairs at the Climate and Security Center in Washington, DC, Associate Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and an independent advisor on climate change and security with the United Nations, the World Bank, British Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth. And the development office.

Rachel Fleishman He is a senior fellow for the Asia-Pacific region at the Center for Climate and Security, an institute of the Strategic Risks Board in Washington, DC, and liaison for the Asia-Pacific region at the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS).

Join Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs for Climate Change, Global Intelligence and Security Conference Friday, April 23 from 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET

Read more national security visions, perspectives and analyzes in the field of national security Cipher Brief.

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