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U.S.-China Climate Agreement: Implications for National Security?

"Friendship and Cooperation Through Music." Collaboration between musicians from the US and Chinese Armies.

“Friendship and Cooperation Through Music.” Collaboration between musicians from the US and Chinese Armies.

The United States and China concluded a joint climate agreement yesterday. While the effect of this agreement on the rate and scale of climate change is potentially significant, it may also serve a broader geopolitical benefit as the United States gradually “rebalances” its foreign and security policy to the Asia-Pacific region, and pursues other national security interests in forums such as the UN Security Council.

Enduring tensions between China and the United States (and its allied and partner nations) over the South China Sea, as well as a broad range of other difficult dynamics in the relationship (e.g. cyber warfare, U.S. concerns over a growing and more assertive Chinese military, human rights, consistent disagreement at the UN Security Council, and competing proposals for free trade zones in the region, one that excludes China and the other that’s China-led), are likely to continue for some time to come. However, an agreement of this kind can spill over into other areas of the relationship, thereby broadening the aperture for U.S. cooperation (and competition) with China on a range of issues of core concern to U.S. national security.

In other words, this is not just a climate agreement. It’s also a trust-building exercise that may offer the United States a greater amount of freedom and flexibility in pursuing the national security goals of the US and its allied and partner nations.

Update: Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change

071127-N-7955L-130The American Security Project (ASP) has just released an updated version of its Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change, which examines how national security establishments across the globe view (and address) climate change. The update hones in on a handful of specific countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Guyana, India, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Here is a description of the index, and update ,from the ASP website: (more…)

China, Water Transfers, Disease and Climate Change: Transferring Risk with Water?

Liujiaxia-DamChina is in the process of constructing a massive “South-North Water Transfer Project” connecting the more water-abundant south to the water-stressed north. There are a number of motivations for building the project including natural water scarcity, increased demand from both increased industrialization and population, decreasing water quality, and recent instances of severe droughts (with implications for global food supply). There are still some uncertainties about how exactly climate change will impact water resources in China, but projections of significant rainfall variability are well-founded, and the government is taking the potential risks seriously. In that context, this project could be seen as part of China’s climate adaptation strategy, though it is already apparent that there are some serious unintended consequences. (more…)

China Environment Series: Coal Heaven, Water Hell

800px-Bayan_hot_inner_mongoliaThe Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum has just published the 12th edition of its China Environment Series (CES12). This edition, like previous editions, is packed full of interesting content focusing on environmental issues in and around China. This year, the special focus is on the water-energy nexus, and opportunities for cooperation over clean energy between the United States and China. (more…)

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