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The tragedy unfolding in Pakistan in the wake of unprecedented flooding late last month, which has inundated a third of the country and displaced millions of people, is not only a humanitarian catastrophe but also poses significant security threats. Already before the floods, South Asia experienced record breaking heat waves in April and May, leading to unbearable living conditions, widespread energy blackouts, and rapid glacial melt. These climate hazards will compound existing challenges in the country, including political instability, Islamic extremism, and nuclear security.
Given these dynamics, efforts to address the immediate humanitarian crisis as well as develop longer-term climate adaptation and resilience measures are not just the right thing for Western countries to do—such investments will also provide security benefits as they contribute to a more stable Pakistan in the future. In particular, the United States must live up to its climate finance commitments, and better integrate climate considerations into the range of engagements it has with Pakistan, including ongoing military training and support.
In April 2022, the U.S. State Department released a Prologue to the 2020 United States Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, part of the Global Fragility Act of 2019. The prologue selected four countries and one region—including Papua New Guinea—as a geographic focus in developing a blueprint for promoting global peace and security.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is at a pivotal moment in its development. Opportunities to modernize are clashing with traditional tribal strictures; foreign commercial and political actors are vying for favor and resources; and global geopolitical competition is buffeting regional relationships. Exacerbating all of these challenges is climate change.
This briefer by the Center for Climate and Security focuses on key PNG security risks, and the role of climate change in shaping security outcomes in the country. It highlights both risks and opportunities, and offers policymakers targeted recommendations to prevent instability and conflict in a complex, climate-stressed environment.
About the author
Rachel Fleishman is Nonresident Senior Research Fellow for the Asia-Pacific at the Center for Climate and Security, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks.
By Dr. Duncan Depledge, Matt Ince, Olivia Lazard, and Erin Sikorsky
Climate change is altering the physical and strategic context in which national and international security is pursued. But it is not just increased climate variability and its socio-economic consequences that could compound instability and violent conflict in the future. The scale of transformation required to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, as well as the speed and orderliness with which any such transition must occur, carries additional risk and demands more attention from scholars and policymakers. That was the
conclusion of a virtual roundtable organized by the UK Ministry of Defence’s Climate Change & Sustainability Directorate and Loughborough University in May 2022, led by the authors of this briefer. The following draws from the roundtable conversations.
Read the full briefer here.
In an analysis released early this year, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) noted that climate change and climate security risks are not separate from other security challenges facing the United States—instead, they are overlapping and interconnected. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is no exception. Climate change is shaping the national security landscape against which this crisis is unfolding, from the tactical to the strategic level. The Ukraine crisis exemplifies the importance of integrating a climate security lens into foreign policy—while climate stress is not the catalyst for conflict in this case, without an understanding of climate and energy transition dynamics brought to the table, policymakers may get key analytic questions and their answers wrong while also missing opportunities for constructive policy interventions.
In this briefer, we discuss four key areas of climate and ecological security that are linked to the crisis in Ukraine: 1) The need to accelerate the clean energy transition; 2) Degradation of Ukrainian ecological security; 3) Decreasing global food security; 4) Russia’s own climate security vulnerabilities.
Read the full briefer here.