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EVENT: China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities
In an era increasingly defined by climate change, the United States and China stand out as the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases—but neither country is immune to its impacts. China, home to nearly 20% of the world’s population and 6.5% of the Earth’s land surface, faces a number of climate security challenges. A recent report published by the Center for Climate and Security identified three categories of risk: (1) direct risks to military and critical infrastructure; (2) compounding risks to internal political stability as climate change threatens food and water security; and (3) external risks as competition over shared resources is heightened and China contends with the impacts of climate on its more vulnerable neighbors. Not only will the country be affected by climate impacts, but global responses to climate change are also likely to have an impact on the country’s growth prospects and standing on the world stage. How climate change and responses to it influence China’s domestic and foreign interests are significant not only for China but also for the international community, including the United States.
To discuss these themes, the Center for Climate and Security and the Wilson Center are co-hosting a public discussion on Tuesday, April 11th, from 9:30 to 11 am ET on “China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities”. The discussion, moderated by Wilson Center Program Director Lauren Herzer Risi, will include:
- Robert Daly, Director, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States
- Greg Pollock, Principal Director for Arctic & Global Resilience Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense
- Erin Sikorsky, Director, Center for Climate and Security
- Jennifer L. Turner, Director, China Environment Forum & Manager, Global Choke Point Initiative
RSVP For Event
This event will be a live-streamed discussion with in-person participants. We hope that you will join us! Please choose a registration option below to access the full invitation and event details.
New Report: China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities
By Erin Sikorsky | Edited by Francesco Femia
A new, first-of-its-kind report from the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities explores China’s security vulnerabilities in the face of expected climate change effects, focusing on its key risks, the Chinese response so far, and identifies important uncertainties as conditions continue to develop. The report also makes several recommendations for the United States as it addresses what the Department of Defense has called the “pacing threat” from China.
While China is often credited with better integrating a long-term approach to its strategic planning than the West, there are key uncertainties regarding Beijing’s climate security preparations, including tensions between day-to-day politics and strategic planning, as well as the adequacy of its adaptation strategy, which is largely rooted in physical infrastructure projects.
From the Executive Summary:
From melting glaciers in the Tibetan Plateau to the effect of rising sea levels on the heavily populated Yangtze River Basin and Pearl River Delta, from record heatwaves and drought to unprecedented flooding from extreme precipitation—a range of climate hazards threaten critical Chinese civilian and military infrastructure, risk domestic political instability, including in already restive regions of the country, and challenge Chinese geopolitical interests abroad.
China’s senior leadership appears to recognize climate change as a national security threat. Under Xi Jinping, China has adopted a broad concept of national security that encompasses internal and external, traditional and non-traditional threats. It is unclear, however, the extent to which ecological and climate security topics have permeated Chinese military strategy and doctrine, though public documents and statements provide some indications that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is at least considering these climate implications.
Direct inquiries to: Andrew Facini, afacini [at] csrisks.org
Ahead of Arctic Council Meeting, New “Story Map” Analysis Outlines Mounting Climate Change Risks to Arctic Security
May 18, 2021 — Today, ahead of Thursday’s Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, the Council on Strategic Risks’ Converging Risks Lab and the Woodwell Climate Research Center release a new “story map” analysis of the major impacts climate change and permafrost thaw will have on defense infrastructure and security operations in the Arctic. It shows that against a backdrop of regional warming, Arctic nations are increasingly competing alongside the accelerating and dangerous impacts of climate change.
The forthcoming report whose findings are previewed this week in the “story map” analysis titled “Temperatures and Tensions Rise: Security and Climate Risks in the Arctic,” combines the latest climate projections with security analysis. It examine two main trends that will experience significant change in the Arctic and result in new challenges: rapid environmental shifts that will destabilize the region, including loss of sea ice, new temperature extremes, warming oceans, permafrost thaw, and biodiversity changes, and an influx of new human activity, including resource extraction, development, use of new shipping lanes, and military traffic. The story map analysis derived from the forthcoming report includes detailed regional maps overlaying the extent of these climate changes and their future projections alongside increasing human and security activities in the region.
New Report: Melting Mountains, Mounting Tensions: Climate Change and the India-China Rivalry
By Rachel Fleishman and Sarang Shidore
See the associated India-China story map here.
In many parts of the world, climate change is a trigger for disaster. In some, it can also be a catalyst for conflict. On the India-China border, it has the potential to be both—exacerbating an already-fraught relationship with the potential for escalation to the nuclear plane.
Melting Mountains, Mounting Tensions: Climate Change and the India-China Rivalry is the first of a series of case studies integrating security analysis of instability and conflict involving nuclear-armed states with cutting-edge climate science. The outcome of a novel collaboration between the Converging Risks Lab of the Council on Strategic Risks and the Woodwell Climate Research Center, the case studies aim to raise awareness and flag the urgency of converging climate and nuclear risks at a time when the global security landscape is becoming more complex. Climate change is the main impetus for new Chinese hydropower projects in the Tibetan Plateau and in Pakistani-held Kashmir. The addition of clean energy to the Chinese grid will contribute to decarbonizing the economy. But Indian populations downstream in the Indus and Brahmaputra river basins worry that China will use its dams to manipulate water flow, inducing or worsening droughts and floods.(more…)