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RELEASE: As ASEAN Meets on Disaster Relief, New Report from Military Analysts Urges Indo-Asia Pacific Leaders to Make Climate Change a “Security Priority”

CS Indo-Asia Pacific Cover ImageWashington, DC, August 12, 2020 – As ASEAN convenes the 13th Meeting of its Joint Task Force on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) released a new report urging leaders to make climate change a “security priority” in the Indo-Asia Pacific. The IMCCS is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe – currently hailing from 38 countries in every hemisphere – dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate.

The emergence and ongoing consequences of COVID-19 have exposed serious societal vulnerabilities, even in wealthy nations, and demonstrated that foreseeable crises can have severe social, economic, political and security consequences. Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for using science as a basis for risk management. Likewise, climate science should be incorporated into security policy and planning to avoid worst outcomes. This is according to the new report by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), titled “Climate and Security in the Indo-Asia Pacific.” The report, which is part of the World Climate and Security Report 2020 Briefer Series, articulates six main points. (more…)

State Department Ignores Climate Change in the Indo-Pacific Region

Indo-Pacific State DepartmentBy Marc Kodack

The U.S. State Department recently published an “implementation update” of its Indo-Pacific strategy, titled “A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision.” It provides a summary of the State Department’s initiatives over the last two years – namely its’ “diplomatic, economic, governance and security” actions to implement a whole-of-government strategy in the region. Ideally, it should complement the Department of Defense’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report. While the Pentagon report mentions climate change as a “transnational challenge” within its report, the State Department document includes no mention of climate change, despite severe consequences for the region, including as it relates to transboundary water issues, such as the Mekong River, which are creating tensions among multiple countries that share a river system. (more…)

Japan Continues its Leadership on Climate Change and Security

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Kazuyuki Nakane, Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, makes opening remarks at June 12, 2018 conference on climate change and fragility in Tokyo –  Photo by Climate Change Division of Japan’s Foreign Ministry. 

By Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs

On July 12, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the “International conference on climate change and fragility in the Asia-Pacific region — Interlinkage among science, regional studies and business from the perspective of long-term climate risks” in Tokyo, which the Center for Climate and Security contributed to and participated in. The conference built on earlier Japanese leadership on climate security, stemming from its 2016 G7 presidency and leadership of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Climate Fragility Working Group, which also resulted in a report on climate security issues in Southeast Asia and the Pacific presented at 2017 G7 meeting in Italy and last year’s COP.

The July event was aimed at taking the climate security discussion to the Japanese corporate and finance sectors, illustrating the long tail of risk to Japanese commercial interests in the Asia-Pacific. These include the climate vulnerability of concentrated manufacturing centers in Southeast Asia, as evidenced by the November 2011 floods in Thailand that disrupted supply chains for automotive and electronic components, resulting in a global shortage of hard drives. (more…)

Climate Change Remains a Consistent Theme at Shangri-La Security Dialogue

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U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis meets with Australian Minister of Defense, Senator Marise Payne and Japanese Minister of Defense, Itsunori Onodera, at Shangri-La Dialogue, June 2, 2018. (DoD Photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

By Steve Tebbe, Policy Associate

When Florence Parly, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, called to “disarm the climate” at this year’s IISS Shangri-La Dialogue (17th Asia Security Summit), it helped exemplify how seriously the summit’s panelists were taking the security risks of climate change. The Dialogue continued the pattern of recent Shangri-La Dialogues and other security conferences, with a range of leading defense ministers and practitioners speaking on how the changing climate has impacted their security.

Asia-Pacific defense ministers, military and civilian staff gather in Shangri-La every year to discuss the trends and threats in Indo-Pacific regional security. News outlets have covered the emphasis on ASEAN terrorism, the Korean Peninsula, and emphasized the Indo-Pacific space across the Dialogue. However, climate security was included in a number of speaker’s talks this year, including Minister Parly, Ron Mark, the Minister of Defence of New Zealand, and Philip Barton, the Director-General for Consular and Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK. In the Sixth Special Session focusing on regional security cooperation, Vice Admiral Hervé de Bonnaventure, the Acting Director-General of International Relations and Strategy at the French Ministry of the Armed Forces noted that he believes climate directly changes military operations: (more…)

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