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By Neil Bhatiya, Climate and Diplomacy Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security
Last month, the United Nations Security Council held the latest in what has become a series of Arria formula meetings on climate change and security. These informal consultations allow Security Council members to discuss issues threatening international peace and security without putting the full diplomatic weight of the Council behind a specific course of action, or obligating individual member-states to endorse specific statements issued by the Security Council on an issue which may be sensitive to their national interests. Ukraine, with the assistance of Germany, convened this particular meeting, with a specific emphasis on sea-level rise as a threat to international peace and security, a theme Janani Vivekananda and I explored in a CCS briefer on climate change and megacities. (more…)
As reported by EPI yesterday, global grain stocks dropped “dangerously low” in 2012, largely as a result of droughts that “devastated several major crops—namely corn in the United States (the world’s largest crop) and wheat in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Australia.” What makes these lows very dangerous is that consumption of grains are significantly outpacing production. Demand is growing, while more and more crops are withering in the sun. (more…)
Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman recently reported on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest numbers, which reveal that “all categories of drought increased across the country between Nov. 20-27, with the largest increase occurring in an area from Alabama northeastward to Virginia.” Freedman also reports on a recent statement by Deutsche Bank Securities’ chief U.S. economist, Joseph LaVorgna, who predicted that “the drought will be responsible for a 0.5 to 1 percent drop in U.S. gross domestic product this year, a significant drop considering the relatively slow pace of growth throughout the year.”
Also, as we have written previously, the drought may have worrying security implications for other countries that are tied to the U.S. through the global food market. And given that a number of these countries have themselves experienced major droughts recently (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Spain, Argentina), this prolonged U.S. drought could have serious global consequences.
Kazakhstan is huge, and hugely important on the international scene, yet we rarely hear about it. In terms of land mass, Kazakhstan is a massive country – the ninth largest in the world. It is also one of the largest producers of wheat, featuring in the top ten list of nations for that distinction.
It’s wheat-production capacity places it at the center of a Central Asian triumvirate that is critical for maintaining the stability of the global food market. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (and as highlighted in a recent piece on Al Jazeera), Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine alone have the capacity to meet “half of the world’s grain export needs.” (more…)
The national Drought Monitor recently declared a drought for almost 80% of the contiguous United States, ranging in intensity from “abnormally dry” to “drought-exceptional.” Five days ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture followed by declaring disasters in 26 U.S. states. This is the largest national disaster area ever declared. But while the drought is obviously a serious concern for the U.S. (historically, droughts are the nation’s most costly natural disaster), it also has worrying implications for other countries that are tied to the U.S. through the global food market. Coupled with other recent extreme weather events across the globe, the U.S. drought could have a globally destabilizing influence. And while it is too early to tell exactly why these events are happening, in the way that they are happening, recent reports show that climatic changes are a part of the story. (more…)