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A Marshall Plan to Combat Climate Change in the Asia-Pacific: The Missing Piece of the New U.S. Security Strategy
For the first time since the days of William Howard Taft, the United States is officially reorienting its security and defense strategy to the Asia-Pacific region, closing down military bases in Europe, redeploying soldiers to bases in Australia, and placing the region front and center in its strategic documents. As stated in the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance note, “while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity re-balance toward the Asia-Pacific region.” But if this shift is to translate into leadership, the United States needs a complementary investment agenda for building the region’s resilience to key emerging threats – including climate change. (more…)
Since climate change began to be discussed as a security issue, there has been a consistent and unfortunate oversimplification of the climate and security discourse. This mischaracterization centers on an argument which either unwittingly or deliberately confuses causality, correlation, and probability. The assertion often starts with: “There is no evidence that climate change causes conflict” or “There is no evidence that climate change causes migration.” (more…)
A recent address by UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, at the UN Security Council debate on the impacts of climate change on international peace and security, is a must read (or watch, if you prefer). In the address, Steiner clearly defines the major pillars of the climate and security link. The points raised in his address highlight the current peace and security implications of climate change, and chart a clear path for adequately addressing the risks. (more…)
On July 20, 2011, for only the second time, the UN Security Council officially debated the peace and security implications of climate change. In the first such debate in 2007, climate change was added to the agenda by the UK, then Council president. The agenda was, however, thwarted by the Chinese and other nations wary of the potential for UNSC “mission creep.” Roughly four years and billions of tons of CO2 emissions later, the Germans assumed the Council presidency, and decided to give it another go. The results were indeed better than last time, but not sufficient given the scale of the crisis. (more…)
The Nile Basin has been a hotbed of activity over the last year. In addition to the Arab Spring and South Sudan becoming a recognized state, the nations within the Nile Basin are renegotiating a longstanding water-sharing agreement over use of the Nile’s waters. All of this action creates an opportunity to develop a climate-resilient water-sharing agreement that could help reduce the probability of future water conflicts. (more…)
We know with a very high degree of certainty the likelihood of climate change and its expected impacts.
We know that global agriculture production faces increased floods and droughts, which will disrupt growing patterns that have been cultivated over thousands of years, severely diminishing our ability to feed a global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.
We know that climate change will impact resource availability, such as freshwater, compelling people to move to new locations, within and across national boundaries. We know that such dynamics can result in conflict and violence.
Despite the certainty of these risks, the global response has been feeble at best. In short, we were unprepared. Climate change at this rate and scale is unprecedented in human history. Our governance structures, from the familial to the international, which are responsible for responding to risk and maintaining our security, have evolved during a period of relative climate certainty. Cities, trade agreements, economies, national boundaries, political systems, security strategies, have all been built upon a stable climate.
In a world with an unstable climate, all of these structures will have to prepare. An unprecedented risk needs an unprecedented response.