The United States and China concluded a joint climate agreement yesterday. While the effect of this agreement on the rate and scale of climate change is potentially significant, it may also serve a broader geopolitical benefit as the United States gradually “rebalances” its foreign and security policy to the Asia-Pacific region, and pursues other national security interests in forums such as the UN Security Council.
Enduring tensions between China and the United States (and its allied and partner nations) over the South China Sea, as well as a broad range of other difficult dynamics in the relationship (e.g. cyber warfare, U.S. concerns over a growing and more assertive Chinese military, human rights, consistent disagreement at the UN Security Council, and competing proposals for free trade zones in the region, one that excludes China and the other that’s China-led), are likely to continue for some time to come. However, an agreement of this kind can spill over into other areas of the relationship, thereby broadening the aperture for U.S. cooperation (and competition) with China on a range of issues of core concern to U.S. national security.
In other words, this is not just a climate agreement. It’s also a trust-building exercise that may offer the United States a greater amount of freedom and flexibility in pursuing the national security goals of the US and its allied and partner nations.
Last Friday the Mediterranean areas around Southern Italy experienced a rare “Medicane” event of tropical storm-like conditions. Jeff Master’s explains the science behind these rare weather events, and the likelihood of seeing more of them under a changing climate.
Storms of this nature are just one more stress to the small Italian island that is also a main point of entry to the European Union for migrants and refugees from places like Syria and Eritrea. The voyage from point of origin to the shores of Europe and Italy is no cruise (more…)
Washington, D.C. — The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a policy institute with an Advisory Board of retired senior military officers and national security experts, is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) recently-released 2014 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP), which states: “Climate change is predicted to affect the Department in many ways, including direct effects on installations and indirect effects on regional stability, particularly those regions of the world already prone to conflict.” (more…)
The latest synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) re-issued some dire warnings. These include significant risks to food security, and the increased probability of conflict that could occur as climate change amplifies other known drivers of conflict, such as “poverty” and “economic shocks.”
But the top takeaway from the climate-security point of view is the notion that we are very close to climate change inflicting “severe, widespread, and irreversible” damage, and that “many aspects of climate change and its impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped.” The bottom line is that no matter what we do or do not do today to slow the rate of climate change, we are going to have to prepare to live in a warmer and more insecure world. (more…)