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By Elsa Barron
Pakistan has been hit with unprecedented levels of flooding over this summer’s monsoon season, submerging one-third of the entire country under water. Already, one early attribution study has linked this disaster to climate change, finding that this severity of flooding is extremely unlikely without existing global temperature rise.
While the scale of the disaster is linked to climate change, the scale of the disaster’s impact is linked to poor governance, writes Jumaina Siddiqui. The politically unstable government in Pakistan has failed to develop comprehensive resilience measures, even after similar extreme flood events of the past.
This has led to devastating humanitarian costs, and yet that is not the end of the potential risks. As Erin Sikorsky and Andrea Rezzonico write, “These climate hazards will compound existing challenges in the country, including political instability, Islamic extremism, and nuclear security.” Given such intersecting risks, it is critical to take a holistic climate security approach to the current crisis in Pakistan. As Ameera Adil and Faraz Haider write, Pakistan’s climate security threats should inspire a rethink of comprehensive national security.
In order to discuss these articles and themes, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) will convene a public roundtable discussion on Friday. September 30th, from 9 to 10 am EST on “The Security Implications of the Pakistan Floods.” The expert panel, moderated by CCS Director Erin Sikorsky, will include:
- Ameera Adil, Assistant Director Sustainability at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan
- Faraz Haider, Research Associate, Faculty of Aerospace and Strategic Studies, Air University, Islamabad
- Andrea Rezzonico, Deputy Director, Converging Risks Lab, Council on Strategic Risks
- Jumaina Siddiqui, Senior Program Officer, South Asia United States Institute of Peace
We hope that you will join us for this event. Please register here to access the full invitation and webinar details.
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.
Late last week, the U.S. Congress passed landmark climate legislation in the form of the Inflation Reduction Act. This legislation will speed up deployment of clean energy and lower US carbon emissions by about 40 percent from 2005 levels, closing two-thirds of the remaining gap between current policies and the US climate target of a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. The legislation has multiple implications for U.S. climate security going forward—including helping prevent the worst security outcomes of unchecked emissions, bolstering U.S. credibility as it pushes other countries to reduce emissions, improving U.S. energy reliability and resilience, and complementing Department of Defense efforts to curb its own emissions in hard to decarbonize sectors.(more…)
On July 18, the UK Royal Air Force halted flights out of its largest airbase because the ‘runway had melted’ —a line my colleagues suggested they’d expect to read in a dystopian science fiction novel about the future. Alas, this headline was all too real, as countries across Europe battled record climate change-driven heatwaves.
While part of the RAF was (temporarily) grounded, other European militaries—in Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Cyprus, and Slovenia—were helping fight unprecedented fires across their countries. Nearly half of the EU and UK is at risk of drought, with the European Commission’s Joint Research Center assessing that water and heat stress are driving crop yields down and straining energy production across the continent. Given that food and energy crises were expected well before this heatwave struck, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg could not have asked for a better illustration of his assertion that climate change is a “crisis multiplier.”(more…)