Climate Change and Security in the News - February 2010

A round-up of articles relating to climate change and security in the world media for February 2010

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Security agencies say climate change is a threat

Security agencies on both sides of the Atlantic have released reports on climate security. In the UK, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) released the fourth edition of the Global Strategic Trends Report which assesses the likely impact of global trends over the next thirty years. The report reiterates the view that 'climate change will amplify existing social, political and resource stresses, shifting the tipping point at which conflict ignites, rather than directly causing it'.

In the US, the Pentagon submitted the latest Quadrennial Defense Review to Congress. Echoing the MoD's report, the review states that 'while climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict'. According to the QDR, climate change will affect US security in two ways: by shaping 'the operating environment, roles, and missions' the US undertakes, and by forcing the Department of Defense to deal with the impacts of climate change on facilities and military capabilities.

In his annual threat assessment to Congress, Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair said 'global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years because it will aggravate existing world problems-such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions-that threaten state stability'.

Coverage: AllGov, UNDispatch, Center for American Progress

Concern about climate security continues to grow

More countries (see December 2009 news) are taking the security implications of climate change seriously.

In Pakistan, at the first meeting of the Climate Change Sub-Committee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Environment, Marvi Memon, chairperson of the sub-committee, warned: 'If not addressed appropriately, climate change challenges will lead to national security crisis'.

A new report by Oxfam has found that extreme weather conditions and melting glaciers threaten food security and social stability in Tajikistan. Tajikistan is one of the countries that has contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions but stands to be among the worst affected.

The producer of Taiwan's first documentary to look at the impact of climate change on the country has called on the Taiwanese government to treat climate change as a threat to national security. Taiwan will be one of the first countries affected by rising sea levels which could leave many parts of the country under water.

Coverage: Dawn, BBC News Online, Taiwan News

Climate change and security: a tipping point for conflict?

In video interviews for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, the UK's Climate and Energy Security Envoy, has warned that climate change could be the 'tipping point' that causes conflict.

Morisetti's role is to persuade security and defence communities of the need to understand the risks of climate insecurity to regional and global stability.

Coverage: FCO website

Jordan turns to the military in the fight against climate change

To meet its commitments to the Copenhagen Accord Jordan has announced plans to make military equipment more energy efficient. Jordan is the only developing country to include the military sector in its plan to cut emissions. Tate Nurkin, director of security and military intelligence at Jane's, was unsurprised, arguing energy efficiency in the military will 'continue to receive greater emphasis from both governments and contractors in the coming years'.

Some experts fear military build-ups could take place under the guise of fighting climate change. 'You cannot expand the number of vehicles and tanks and jet fighters and then have a better fuel efficiency and say you are helping solve the problem of climate change,' said Johan Rockstrom, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. However, Alyson Bailes, a security expert and visiting professor at the University of Iceland, is surprised that European countries are not doing the same. 'I find it very strange that European procurement chiefs and producers are not thinking in the same way,' she said. 'Part of the problem may be that "green" people simply see arms as a bad thing and fear to legitimise them by cleaning them up'.

Coverage: Reuters

Experts to study potential for conflict and climate change

A new European research project is underway to study the social dimensions of climate change. CLICO (climate change, water conflict and human security) brings together experts from research institutes in Europe, Africa and the Middle East to analyse the impact of water-related climate phenomena (e.g. drought, flooding, sea level rise) on the intensification of social tension and conflicts in eleven regions of the Mediterranean, Maghreb, Middle East and Sahel, and will propose specific actions to guarantee the peace and security of the population in each area. The project will be financed with 3.8 million euros and will last three years

News of the CLICO project arrives in the wake of Zafar Adeel's (chair of UN-Water) warning that the main impact of climate change will be on the availability of fresh water.

Coverage: EurekAlert!, Reuters

'Security in a drier age'

In a three part article for China Dialogue, Scott Moore has been exploring the implications of climate change for China's national security. China's cabinet last year declared that climate change threatens the country's development by increasing extreme-weather events and exacerbating water shortages. According to Moore, this is illustrative of the growing trend in China towards viewing climate change as a direct threat to the country's development objectives. Moore concludes that given the security ramifications of climate change in the region, 'it is welcome news that Beijing increasingly sees reducing its own emissions as matter of national interest'.

Coverage: China Dialogue

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