Climate Change and Security in the News - September 2009

A round-up of articles relating to climate change and security in the world media for September 2009

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UN climate summit: China lays down challenges to US in their pledges to cut emissions

At a UN climate summit on 22 September, Chinese President Hu Jintao made the country's most significant pledge yet to curb its emissions.  Given on the first day of the UN general assembly meeting in New York, Jintao's promise of a decrease in China's emissions was seen as a challenge to the US to follow suit.  The UN summit was a symbolic effort to announce targets before Copenhagen (indeed, US President Obama said he was 'determined to act'), but it is only an intermediate stage of the process.

Similarly, India has set substantial targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions.  After having accused rich countries in previous weeks of doing too little to combat their own carbon emissions, the move to set its own targets is seen by many as a challenge from India to the developed world, putting pressure on richer governments - namely, the Obama administration - to set them too. 
Coverage: Times, Guardian, Telegraph

A threat to security in the Arctic

Military experts and lawmakers have recently highlighted that the US is losing its ability to patrol and safeguard the Arctic waters.  The melting of polar ice as a result of global warming has caused a rush of oil and gas exploration in the region, and the National Academy of Sciences are working alongside Pentagon officials to re-assess the value of their ice-breaking ships used to govern the water.  Stating that some of the ships are outdated or ineffective, experts are urging the US to evaluate arctic strategy.
For more on the strategical implications of global warming, see RUSI's 'Facing the Winds of Climate Change'
Coverage: New York Times

UK politicians back new carbon-cutting initiative, '10:10'

National newspaper, The Guardian, has launched an initiative this month in an attempt to persuade individuals and organizations to reduce their carbon emissions by ten per cent by 2010.  The campaign has won favour with politicians from across the political spectrum, who are pledging emissions cuts after the general election.  The campaign is seen by many as a step in the right direction, as experts urge that the issue of carbon emissions must be at the top of the climate change agenda.
Coverage: Guardian, Telegraph

Kenyan droughts highlight scarcity of resources as climate change increases

With droughts in Kenya continuing to develop this month, around four million people have experienced severe hunger and are dependent on food aid provided by the government.  The lack of rainfall has resulted in the death of entire herds of cattle, leaving towns unable to provide food for their inhabitants.  Alongside large power shortages since its main source of electricity is hydro-power, Kenya's crisis is exacerbated by high food prices (resulting from poor crops) and insufficient government planning, which has 'left a large hole' in the country's grain reserves.
Coverage: Guardian, Reuters, Telegraph

Ancient glaciers disappearing faster than predicted

The ice sheets around Greenland in Antarctica are melting at a rate faster than climate change experts had initially predicted.  Such melting of ice from land as well as floating sheets in oceans will contribute to a rise in sea levels in the coming years, which will lead to flooding in various regions sooner than has been predicted.
For more on the subject, see RUSI's 'UK Floods: Changing Attitudes'
Coverage: Independent, Telegraph


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