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New Report: The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change

USAsiaPacifcRebalanceImageIf the United States is to “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region  – building and broadening alliances, helping advance regional security and prosperity in the face of potentially catastrophic change, and advancing U.S. national security interests – it will have to seriously consider how climate change affects the region, how the U.S. can help advance the climate resilience of the region’s diverse nations, and how the U.S. will adapt strategically to a changed security environment. This new report, “The U.S. Asia- Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change,” published by the Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Program, the Center for New American Security and the University of Oxford, explores ways in which the effects of climate change will both shape, and be shaped by, the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. It also offers solutions for how the effects of climate change can be addressed in a strategic way, through implementing region-wide “Climate-Security Plans,” adapting military infrastructure, and supporting key nations that are grappling with climate risks to their food, water and energy security. The report’s foreword, written by former U.S. Pacific Commander, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, USN (Ret), notes:

“As we seek to rebalance and reinvigorate our historic alliances, build new strategic and economic partnerships, and effectively posture our military in the Asia-Pacific for the 21st century, we must address the potentially catastrophic security implications of climate change in the Asia-Pacific and their likely impact on U.S. interests in the region.”
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BRIEFER: Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries, Opportunities for Conflict Prevention

The Center for Climate and Security’s Dr. Marcus Dubois King writes about the climate change-fisheries-conflict nexus in a new briefer titled “Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries: Opportunities for Conflict Prevention.” The article will also appear in a forthcoming multi-author volume from the Center. For the full briefer, click here. For a summary, see below.

Summary: Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries: Opportunities for Conflict Prevention

Vietnamese fisheries in the South China Sea are a vital economic resource that is in decline and susceptible to climate change. Chinese vessels have engaged Vietnamese counterparts as they pursue catches in waters claimed by China. Projected further northward migration of fish stocks into these waters caused by warming ocean temperatures could aggravate tensions as Vietnamese fishers follow. Likewise, climate change’s impacts on Vietnamese aquaculture threaten food security in areas including those experiencing heavy inward migration. Ethnic minority groups experience a disproportionate share of the negative consequences; a situation that may aggravate existing tensions. Vietnam is an emerging strategic partner in the region. Vietnamese conflict with China and internal instability are inimical to U.S. interests. As it rebalances foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. government should dedicate more resources, including military assets and climate finance, toward improving climate resilience and fisheries management in Vietnam. Constructive engagement on climate change can promote Vietnamese internal and external security while reducing the possibility of conflict with China. Click here for the full briefer.

Flood Relief in Kashmir: An Opportunity for Conflict Transformation?

Kashmir_mapThe worst flooding in decades has wreaked havoc in Kashmir, the disputed region between Pakistan and India, and one of the world’s most heavily militarized boarders. To date hundreds have lost their lives to the floods and landslides and thousands more remain stranded awaiting assistance. Responding to the flood is a top priority for both nations. Pakistani and Indian troops are diverting some of their attention away from on-going hostilities in order to focus on flood recovery.

However, the political realities outside the bounds of the flood waters will likely limit the extent of the goodwill shared between the nation’s leaders, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who have both offered flood relief assistance to their counterparts. (more…)

Peace and Conflict: The Unique Urgency of the Climate Change Risk

Emergency_food,_drinking_water_and_shelter_to_help_people_displaced_in_Rakhine_State,_western_Burma._(8288488088)As we recently highlighted, a new issue of the academic journal Climatic Change titled “Climate and security: evidence, emerging risks, and a new agenda” has just been released. The lead editor of the report has also published an excellent summary on the New Security Beat, which includes a discussion of the four research challenges in this area of inquiry: understanding both conflict and peace potential, further developing explanatory models, re-embedding the issue of power into the discourse, and understanding the limitations of historical examples. This special issue helps to set the stage for the release of the IPCC’s new “human security” chapter on March 31.  Together, these reports will play an important role in highlighting where the current state of inquiry is on the topic today, and in providing a clarion call for more research. But this is not your father’s research agenda. There is a unique urgency associated with climate change risks, and major outstanding uncertainties regarding those risks that give such a research agenda a particular importance. That same urgency also underscores the need to immediately advance policies that manage those uncertainties, rather than waiting for certainty before acting. (more…)

Update on Climate Change and Conflict

Water tower_SyriaMarshall Burke, co-author of the recent study “Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict,” has posted a useful set of responses and clarifications to the dialogue in the media regarding their study. It’s a comprehensive article which goes a long way towards addressing both legitimate criticism and straw men.

Also, the humanitarian news service AlertNet just published a version of our previous blog post on the subject.

Climate Change, Conflict and Certainty: New Research in Context

Failed-states-index-2012A new peer-reviewed study published yesterday by Hsiang, Burke and Miguel in Science, concludes that there is a significant causal link between a warming climate (even minor temperature variability), more extreme rainfall, and the likelihood of different scales of conflict, ranging from domestic violence to intra and inter-state conflict. It is a meta-analysis of 60 previous peer-reviewed studies, and 45 data sets, published in a respectable scientific journal. (more…)

Conference: Climate Change and Security at the Crossroads – Pathways to Conflict or Cooperation?

800px-Kristiansand,_NorwayKristiansand, Norway is the setting for a conference on climate change and security currently underway. The conference, “Climate Change and Security at the Crossroads – Pathways to Conflict or Cooperation,” is being held at the University of Agder from June 20 to 21, 2013. The Research Group Climate Change and Security (CLISEC) and the Centre for Development Studies of the University of Agder organized the two-day affair, and will be posting the proceedings online at a later date. The program is available online and provides a great look at who within the academic community is focusing on the intersection of climate and security, as well as what major questions and geographies are at the center of the discussion. It is encouraging to see this level of research and attention dedicated to the topic, and we look forward to reading the results.