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New Report: The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change

USAsiaPacifcRebalanceImageIf the United States is to “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region  – building and broadening alliances, helping advance regional security and prosperity in the face of potentially catastrophic change, and advancing U.S. national security interests – it will have to seriously consider how climate change affects the region, how the U.S. can help advance the climate resilience of the region’s diverse nations, and how the U.S. will adapt strategically to a changed security environment. This new report, “The U.S. Asia- Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change,” published by the Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Program, the Center for New American Security and the University of Oxford, explores ways in which the effects of climate change will both shape, and be shaped by, the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. It also offers solutions for how the effects of climate change can be addressed in a strategic way, through implementing region-wide “Climate-Security Plans,” adapting military infrastructure, and supporting key nations that are grappling with climate risks to their food, water and energy security. The report’s foreword, written by former U.S. Pacific Commander, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, USN (Ret), notes:

“As we seek to rebalance and reinvigorate our historic alliances, build new strategic and economic partnerships, and effectively posture our military in the Asia-Pacific for the 21st century, we must address the potentially catastrophic security implications of climate change in the Asia-Pacific and their likely impact on U.S. interests in the region.”

Report Contents and Authors

The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change
A Climate and Security Correlations Series
Edited by Caitlin E. Werrell and Francesco Femia

Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III,
U.S. Navy (ret), Former U.S. Pacific Commander
– “As we seek to rebalance and reinvigorate our historic alliances, build new strategic and economic partnerships, and effectively posture our military in the Asia-Pacific for the 21st century, we must address the potentially catastrophic security implications of climate change in the Asia-Pacific and their likely impact on U.S. interests in the region.”

Strategies, Policies and Practices

A Climate-Security Plan for the Asia-Pacific Rebalance: Lessons from the Marshall Plan
Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, Center for Climate and Security
– “To be successful, national security strategies must be complemented by defense, diplomatic and development support for our current and prospective allies to combat emerging threats. If the United States wants to be successful in the Asia-Pacific, it will need to invest in combating the great threat multiplier in the region – climate change.”

Widening the Scope to Asia: Climate Change and Security
Joshua Busby and Nisha Krishnan, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas
– “Not only do the countries in this region constitute some of those most affected by climate-related hazards, but they are also among those that are increasingly important to the global economy and to geostrategic considerations for the United States. U.S. disaster relief in the region – to countries like the Philippines, Pakistan, and Indonesia – has often had both a humanitarian and a national security and diplomacy component.”

U.S. Military Basing Considerations during a Rebalance to Asia: Maintaining Capabilities under Climate Change Impacts
Constantine Samaras, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
“Climate change impacts such as increased heat, changes in precipitation, and sea level rise will affect the performance and life cycle costs of DoD’s existing and planned infrastructure, which will affect the military capabilities of the Pacific installations. Hence as part of the rebalance, DoD needs to ensure the military capabilities enabled by installations in the Pacific are maintained under a changing climate.”

How Focusing on Climate Security in the Pacific Can Strengthen Alliances: Lessons from the Global Defense Index on Climate Change for the U.S.
Andrew Holland, American Security Project
“Even though many countries in the region face a full slate of more “traditional” security threats (like territorial disputes over sea boundaries, historical antagonisms, or the threats on the Korean peninsula), virtually all of the countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania view climate change as a threat to their national security – and most of them have integrated it into their military planning documents.”

Addressing Climate Change and Enhancing Environmental Security in the Asia-Pacific Region
J. Scott Hauger, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
“In a 2012 strategy research project for the U.S. Army War College, Colonel James D. Golden argued that a reactive posture to climate-related impacts is not an appropriate strategy for PACOM. He recommended “…a shift in strategic focus for USPACOM towards adaptive strategies to deal with climate change, and thus to avoid a reactive posture to the accelerants of instability caused by climate change that threaten regional security.”

Regional and Country Case Studies

Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries: Opportunities for Conflict Prevention
Marcus DuBois King, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
“The physical and economic impacts of climate change on Vietnam‘s fisheries are significant and consequential. These impacts may have second-order implications for conflict at the international and local levels. It is in the strategic interest of the U.S. to forestall such conflict and build resilience of this key regional ally.”

Climate Change, Migration, and Resiliency in South Asia: Cooperation for Climate Security
Arpita Bhattacharyya and Michael Werz, Center for American Progress
“South Asia can serve as a case study for the challenges facing the entire region. Higher temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, increasing cyclonic activity in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, and floods in the region’s complex river systems will complicate existing development and poverty reduction initiatives.”

Environmental Instability, Climate Change and Chinese Security
Troy Sternberg, Oxford University
“The direct concern is in how climate change, fluctuations or hydro-meteorological events upset a highly regimented, densely populated system.”

Climate Change, Migration and a Security Framework for the U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance
Leo Goff and Nilanthi Samaranayake, CNA Corporation
 “Working both bilaterally and through multinational organizations, the U.S. must apply sound migration principles, employ a migration security framework, and adopt best practices to find acceptable and perhaps even beneficial solutions to make migration a successful adaption rather than a source of conflict and strife.”

Pathways For Development

Shifting the Paradigm: Climate-wise Development for Human Security
Linda Yarr, The George Washington University
“Resilience requires not only understanding one’s responsibility to contribute to addressing climate change on a personal level and in the community, but also one’s right to a future that is not compromised by the inadequate decisions of those in authority.”

The Security Benefits of Expanded Trade in Energy Efficiency in the Asia-Pacific Region
Peter Gardett, Argus Media and 
Elizabeth Rosenberg, Center for a New American Security
“U.S. policymakers should focus more explicitly on trade in energy efficiency technologies to deliver greater strategic benefits, and greater security, in the rebalance.”

Climate, Security, and Reform
Nancy Brune, Guinn Center for Policy Priorities
“Security assistance and cooperation – particularly since September 11, 2001 – have focused on kinetic military action or warfare. But in recent years, the nature of the security threat has evolved. There is growing recognition among U.S. military and diplomatic leaders that climate change impacts – including environmental degradation, water insecurity, and extreme weather– are threat multipliers and can affect the security and stability of a nation and an entire region.”

1 Comment

  1. Vijayendra Kumar says:

    There should be a plan B that addresses issues arising from countries unable to control CO2 emmisons. An estimate should be made specifically on the economic effects of climate change.

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