184 STC 09 E rev 1 -Climate Change and Global Security
PIERRE CLAUDE NOLIN (CANADA) - SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR
II. UPDATE ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE
III. IMPLICATIONS FOR THE ARCTIC REGION
IV. OTHER LINKS BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND SECURITY
1. In 2007, the world’s top scientists provided evidence that global warming is real and that it has been caused (with 90% certainty) by human activity. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the milestone 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (4AR) which predicted that our planet will warm from 1.8-4.0°C in the course of the 21st century, causing sea levels to rise 0.18-0.59 metres. The Arctic Ocean will become almost entirely ice-free during the summer. Typhoons and hurricanes will become more severe and heat waves more frequent. By 2050, water availability is projected to decrease by 10-30% in certain dry regions. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020. Global warming will considerably exacerbate malnutrition in Africa. Twenty to thirty per cent of plant and animal species face the risk of extinction. The IPCC called for concerted international action to prevent the planet’s climate from warming by more than 2°C compared with preindustrial levels.
2. The sceptics’ arguments that climate change is a natural and not a man-made phenomenon can no longer be taken seriously, particularly since the latest data shows that the activity of the sun is currently at its lowest since 1960s.1 The global warming can only be explained by the fact that – as the examination of the layers of the Antarctic ice show – the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was never that high in 650 thousand years (the period for which we have information).
3. In addition to 4AR, another significant document that profoundly increased climate change awareness was The Stern Review, commissioned by the UK government. The Review focused on economic effects of global warming and concluded that due to climate change, the world would be losing at least 5% (in the worst case scenario - even up to 20%) of its GDP each year. By contrast, comprehensive mitigation efforts, such as partial decarbonisation of power and transport sectors, investment in renewable energy and ending deforestation, would only cost 1% of global GDP each year.
4. The dramatically increased global environmental awareness, coupled with changes in US government policy, raised expectations that the international community would launch a new, more robust global framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012. The outline of the new framework should be introduced during the upcoming UN climate change summit in Copenhagen in December 2009.
5. In 2005, the then British Prime Minister famously referred to the climate change as “probably long term, the single most important issue we face as a global community…”. He also noted that “there will be no genuine security if the planet is ravaged by climate change”.2 As such, the climate change cannot but have profound implications for national security. The first hint on interrelationship between climate change and national security was perhaps the testimony of the American oceanographer Roger Ravelle before the US Congress in 1956, when he claimed that if the Arctic Ocean was to become navigable, “the Russian will become a great maritime nation.”3 In the 1990s the US Senate Armed Services Committee stated that global warming was “a growing national security threat”. The notable 2003 Pentagon report focused on the possibility of an “abrupt” (over 10-15 years) climate change scenario, concluding that climate change could even lead to a nuclear war.4 NATO is increasingly considering climate change as a security issue that merits a reference in the new Strategic Concept. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speaking at a conference organised jointly by NATO and Lloyd’s of London on 1 October 2009, said that climate change may have “potentially huge security implications” and that "NATO should begin a discussion on how we – NATO as an organisation, and individual Allies as well – can do better to address the security aspects of climate change. The aim of this report is to analyse linkages between climate change and the field of security. Particular attention will be paid to the security implications for the Arctic region, which is currently one of the most debated issues on the international agenda. In the beginning, however, your Rapporteur wishes to provide a short background on the current status of the climate change debate.
A. NEW SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
6. The predictions of the 4AR remain valid, although possibly too modest. Subsequent scientific findings seem to underscore the gravity of the problem. IPCC researchers continue releasing new studies that introduce significant corrections to the 4AR. For instance, the international team led by American scientist, Joel. B. Smith, provided evidence that extreme weather conditions – such as droughts, hurricanes, floods and heat waves – can even be triggered by very small global temperature increases. This study also established a clear link between the increased greenhouse gas volumes and the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed tens of thousands of people.5
7. A group of authors of the 4AR recently admitted that the 2007 findings were too conservative. It is now widely believed that a 2?C rise in average temperatures before the end of the century is an unrealistic estimate. Hypothetically this target of not going over this 2?C rise could be achieved, but the political determination is obviously lacking. It also has to be noted that even the 2?C increase is expected to bring dire consequences, particularly to some island nations. A group of 43 states are actively promoting the idea of lowering the target to 1.5?C.6 Currently, global average temperature is 0.7?C higher than in the pre-industrial times and 0.3?C higher compared with the 1961-1990 period.
8. According to the latest observations, polar ice caps are melting at an accelerated pace. In addition to warmer temperatures, ice caps are also affected by seawater seeping into the cracks – an effect that the 4AR failed to consider. Thus, it is plausible that the sea levels will rise from 50 to 100 cm this century (rather than 18-59 cm, as predicted by 4AR).7
9. One of the most notorious miscalculations of the 4AR seems to be its overconfidence in the robustness of the Antarctic and Greenlandic ice. At the time of writing, a chunk of ice the size of Connecticut was breaking off the Wilkins Ice Shelf. In 2008, a similar mass of ice collapsed in the same region and floated to the ocean. These incidents will not cause an additional increase of sea levels since the detached ice shelves were always floating on water, but they show that the Antarctic ice cap is more fragile than previously thought.8 The break-up of the continental Antarctic ice would seriously exacerbate the problem of rising sea levels.
10. The world’s climatologists are increasingly concerned about the potential consequences of thawing permafrost in Northern regions, particularly in Siberia. Permafrost contains enormous amounts of methane and other greenhouses gases that, if released, could cause catastrophic effects. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Scientists estimate that some 100 billion tons of these gases could be released by warmer temperatures before the end of this century. This would be equivalent to 270 years of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current rate. Most methane resources are located in Siberia, where the global warming is occurring faster than elsewhere by 2-3?C. The risk posed by the thawing permafrost is particularly disquieting because it could result in a “runaway greenhouse effect”: the more methane is released in the atmosphere, the more it contributes to further increasing average global temperatures that in turn warm up deeper layers of permafrost releasing more methane. Thus the process could start feeding on itself, rendering all climate change mitigation efforts useless.9
11. Another danger that scientists increasingly emphasise concerns changes in ocean currents’ circulation patterns (this subject was addressed in detail in the Assembly’s 2005 Report “Climate Changes in the Arctic: Challenges for the North Atlantic Community” [180 STC 05 E]). Again, this issue was largely ignored by the 4AR. While there are few who believe that the global conveyer belt – of which the Gulf Stream is a part – could shut down completely, it is evident that the conveyor is slowing down due to an increased influx of fresh water from melting polar ice caps and glaciers. Scientists established a correlation between changes in ocean current circulation and precipitation patterns in some regions. In particular, climatologists have strong reasons to believe that slowing down of the conveyor will result in disruption – and possibly even complete collapse – of the South Asian monsoon. Should this happen, consequent severe droughts would cause a frightful humanitarian catastrophe in the region, which is home to some two billion people.10
B. REPLACING KYOTO
12. As noted, the international community has entered a new phase of debates over a new climate pact to tackle climate change. The negotiations are expected to produce – by the time of the 2009 December UN conference in Copenhagen – a new universal framework which would replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
13. The most recent round of negotiations in Bonn, Germany, in late March- early April 2009 was more encouraging than previous ones, largely due to the new attitude of the US delegation and the more constructive approach of some developing countries. However, the industrial and developing countries failed to reach common ground on some key issues, such as emission reduction levels. Several dozens of developing countries insist on setting a target cut of 45% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. The EU is currently planning to make a 20% cut, hinting at the same time that it could agree to a 30% cut if other major emitters would reciprocate. However, the new American Administration has thus far been talking about bring the level of the emissions back to the pre-1990 level.11 Other outstanding and unresolved questions include: 1) should the new climate deal provide for carbon trading mechanisms?; 2) should the developing countries have emissions caps as well?; 3) to what extent should industrialised nations assist developing countries with new technology?; and 4) how could adaptation policies in regions already affected by climate change be stepped up?
14. At the June 2009 talks in Bonn, no agreement was reached on financing to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to global warming. Leaders did agree, however, on the principles setting out the terms for financial contributions, stressing that the principles of ability to pay and responsibility for emissions should serve as a basis for climate funding. All decisions on other aspects of financing were postponed to the autumn12. The informal talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 10-14 August 2009 reportedly achieved only “selective progress”13.
15. On the sidelines of a G8 meeting in Italy on 9 July 2009, the Major Economies Forum, comprising the 17 countries responsible for 75% of all global emissions, pledged to support a global target to cut emissions by 80% by 205014. The base year for calculating emission reductions was, however, left vague. The meeting declaration merely stated that the reductions should be "compared to 1990 or more recent years". Therefore, many observers labelled G8 outcomes as too "vague" and insufficient to halt global warming in the absence of a decisive mid-term target15.
16. The success of the negotiations – and the success of global mitigation efforts for that matter – greatly depends on the position of the United States, the world’s second largest emitter (behind China). President Obama’s views on the problem of climate change are very different from his predecessor’s. He once stated that it was a mistake for the US not to ratify Kyoto.16 He promised that the US will demonstrate leadership and offer effective multinational ways of tackling the problem. . In June 2009, the US Congress voted to reduce emissions by 17% from 2005 levels in 2020 and by 83% in 2050. The Climate Change Bill has also set up a national cap and trade system, and requires power companies to produce 15% of their electricity from wind and solar energy.17
17. While these statements and developments are encouraging, it remains to be seen if they will be translated into concrete achievements internationally. The President’s climate change negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, was criticised for not being ambitious enough at the negotiations in Bonn. The US negotiators claim that the US would only agree to cuts that are “politically and economically achievable”.18 The willingness of the US to assume significant international obligations will depend, to a large extent, on China’s willingness to take at least some obligations as well. Thus, the success of bilateral talks between Washington and Beijing will also be an important factor to consider in anticipation of the Copenhagen conference.
18. China19 and India20 adopted their first national plans to tackle climate change in 2008, prioritising renewable energy sources. Considered among the world's largest producers of greenhouse gases, they both refused to accept binding targets for emissions, pointing out that wealthy developed nations bear most responsibility for the problem21. On 28 July 2009 following two days of high-level discussions, Chinese and US officials signed a memorandum of understanding on how to cut emissions ahead of the UN conference in Copenhagen in December22. Although the document did not set any firm targets, it reiterated support for a 10-year co-operation deal signed by the Bush Administration in 2008 and created a new climate change policy dialogue, to meet regularly. Ten areas of co-operation were listed, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner use of coal, smart grid technologies, electric cars, and research and development23.
19. Brazil24, on the other hand, has focused action on reducing deforestation. Its plan promises to make the country a more influential player in global climate change discussions, helping to push the United States and the European Union to agree emissions cuts that should help head off the adverse effects of climate change. This could in turn also encourage more pledges from wealthy countries willing in essence to pay Brazil for preserving its forest for the good of humanity.
20. Some observers25 believe that the real challenge could be Russia proving uncooperative during the negotiations. Russia is the world's third largest polluter after China and the US. It signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2004, but only after prolonged debates over whether Russia should take on an emissions reduction target. There is a widespread view in Moscow that the costs of even moderate climate change actions would be higher than the possible gains. Without a significant shift in the government's line, Russian negotiators are likely to argue for a compensation scheme in Copenhagen.
21. The 2007 Science and Technology Committee report (“Climate change: Thinking beyond Kyoto” [177 STC 07 E bis]) and subsequent Assembly Resolution (Resolution 367 on “Reinforcing the Global Response to Climate change”) recommended that the new framework include the following elements and principles:
22. Figures released by the UNFCCC on 11 August 200926 showed that the emission reduction pledges so far tabled by industrialised countries would result in a 15-21% cut in 1990 levels. This is far short of the 25-40% that the IPCC says is necessary to halt global warming below the critical 2°C threshold.
23. Observers are now toning down their expectations for Copenhagen27 as a complete agreement seems to be slipping out of sight in favour of a basic framework that could then be filled with substance in the course of 2010.
24. The following chapters of this report will focus on more specific challenges posed by climate change, particularly on those that might have implications for the domain of defence and security.
25. As the polar ice recedes, the carve-up of the continental shelf under the Arctic may be the last big territorial dispute in the world. Some have already labelled it ‘the race to the Arctic’ and stress that it began long ago. A new international shipping route may become possible, a route between Northeast Asia and Northern Europe, that would be much quicker than the Panama or Suez canals. Climate change is also predicted to trigger a rush of new under-sea territorial claims in attempts to gain control of significant oil, gas and other minerals. According to the US Geological Survey assessment, the Arctic contains as much as 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil, mostly offshore under less than 500 meters of water.28
26. No country owns the Arctic Ocean or the North Pole, but under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), concluded in 1982 and in force since 1994, each country with a coast has exploitation rights in an ‘exclusive economic zone’. The treaty recognizes sovereign rights over a country’s continental shelf to 200 nautical miles and beyond, if the country can provide evidence to justify its claims. The Arctic countries are given 10 years after ratification to prove their claims. Additionally, the treaty defines rights on uses of the sea, sets rules for navigation, fishing and economic development, while also establishing environmental standards29. The US, with its Alaskan coast, is the only Arctic nation that is not party to the UNCLOS. However, as demonstrated by signing The Ilulissat Declaration, adopted at The Artic Ocean Conference in Greenland, 27-29 May 2008, the USA is promoting and establishing its sovereign rights, jurisdiction and obligations on a portion of the Arctic Ocean Region. In the Declaration, the representatives of the 5 Arctic nations – Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the US – recalled that “an extensive international legal framework applies to the Arctic Ocean (…). Notably, the law of the sea provides for important rights and obligations concerning the delineation of outer limits of the continental shelf”, and therefore there is “no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean”.
27. The US, Canada and Russia are among the countries attempting to claim jurisdiction over the Arctic territory alongside Nordic nations. Analysts say China is also likely to join the rush to capture energy reserves.30 Former Russian President Vladimir Putin called the sovereignty issue "a serious, competitive battle" that "will unfold more and more fiercely."31 Indeed, last summer Russia sent a mini-submarine to plant its flag on the sea floor beneath the North Pole as a gesture of technological capability. Russia is also staking a larger slice of the Arctic claiming that the 1240mile underwater Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic is connected to its East Siberian Region.32 The Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS)33 rejected Russian claims on grounds of insufficient evidence, but it is confident that it will be able to submit a full-fledged claim of the Arctic continental shelf in due time. In the meantime Russia is increasing its military activities in the region34 and in September 2008, its National Security Council convened at a base on one of its northernmost territories. There have been reports that Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has called for legislation that unilaterally demarcates Russia’s borders in the Arctic.35 Recently, Russia’s Security Council prepared a draft document on national security strategy until 2020. The new strategy focuses extensively on the energy potential of the Arctic. The document underlines how Russia’s intention is to protect its national interests with “a pragmatic foreign policy” which does not exclude the use of armed force in the international fight for hydrocarbon resources. Russia does not rule out that its strategy could disrupt the balance of power in areas near the Russian border.36 Conversely, by The Ilulissat Declaration, Russia along with other four states bordering the Artic Ocean committed to “remain committed to this legal framework [UNCLOS] and to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims”.
28. The US and Canada are at odds over the sovereignty of the Northwest Passage that links the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Canada claims that the Northwest Passage is Canadian territory. The US instead considers it an international waterway. On 12 January 2009, the White House formally released the text of a sweeping new directive on the Arctic just a couple of days before Barack Obama was sworn in. The new Arctic policy reiterates the international waterway status of the Northwest Passage and highlights the boundary dispute in the resourcerich Beaufort Sea37. The document also calls for US participation in the U.N. Convention and for further cooperation among nations in the Arctic Council (namely, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US).
29. Canada has started to conduct the largest military exercise ever in the Arctic region, and recently announced the creation of its first deep-sea port and military base in the Arctic region. Climate change, runaway oil prices and environmental degradation have vaulted the issue of Arctic sovereignty to the top of Canada’s economic, defence and diplomatic concerns. News articles are published on a daily basis on the issue, which even became a point of contention in the recent elections38. As a response to the US new Arctic policy, Canadian Prime Minister S. Harper has stressed that his “government will assert its sovereignty over all of its land and sea territories”. Adding that co-operation to make sure the Arctic is peaceful and does not become a route for smuggling or for other kinds of security risks is absolutely mandatory39.
30. Arctic sovereignty has also received US media coverage, in particular regarding the issue of the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Opponents stress that the ratification would impinge on US military and economic sovereignty, while those in favour underline that the US should take full advantage of the existing international rules. As the New York Times states, “the Convention, now before the Senate, would codify and maximize international recognition of United States rights to one of the largest and most resource-rich continental shelves in the world.”40 The new Obama Administration is expected to support the treaty, further triggering a faster race to develop the Arctic.41
31. The latest report by the IPCC42 says the ice cap is warming faster than the rest of the planet and ice is receding. It's a catastrophic scenario for the Arctic ecosystem, for polar bears and other wildlife, and for indigenous populations like the Inuit and the Sami whose ancient cultures depend on frozen waters. Since the early 1990s environmental security has become the primary concern of international co-operation in the Circumpolar North. The need to understand the causes of natural degradation and the desire to expand scientific understanding gave birth to the Arctic Council in 1996 for which environmental security remains the core mandate. Some positive results have been achieved in combating international pollutants, but much less has been done for climate change, mercury contamination and oil and gas pollution43.
32. The European Union is also paying greater attention to the Arctic as an issue ripe for policy development. In March 2008 an EU study highlighted security threats for Europe as a result of a thawing Arctic. While calling for environmental safeguards of the region, the Commission stressed that “exploitation of the Arctic hydrocarbon resources and the opening of new navigation routes can be of benefit”. In November 2008 a Communication on ‘The European Union and the Arctic region’ was released, describing the EU’s role and outlining its interests. It set policy objectives and recommended a series of steps in the fields of research, environment, indigenous peoples, fisheries, hydrocarbons, shipping, the Arctic’s legal/political framework and co-operation with regional organisations. Three main issues are on the EU agenda: the protection and preservation of the Arctic in unison with its population, the promotion of sustainable exploitation of resources and Arctic multilateral governance44.
33. Finally, as a region of enduring strategic and security importance, the High North remains a constant feature on NATO’s agenda as well. In his opening speech in Reykjavik on 29 January 2009, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer addressed the emerging challenges affecting the Arctic region and the relationship of the various interests at play from a political, military and economic perspective. The Alliance’s future role and its ties with other key international actors45 were also topics tackled in his speech. Four main issues are going to require the Alliance’s attention in the coming years:
34. Firstly, the increased shipping activity in the Arctic region, which will lead to increased human activity and potential threats such as ecological disasters. NATO could play a clear role in this field since it possesses the experience to co-ordinate relief efforts and rescue operations.
35. Secondly, the increased possibility of extracting the High North’s mineral wealth and energy deposits. NATO could be involved in many areas, such as information and intelligence fusion; stability projection; regional co-operation; consequence management support; and critical infrastructure protection.
36. Thirdly, the issue of territorial claims: NATO could provide a forum at which four of the Arctic coastal states could inform, discuss and share concerns.
37. Fourthly, the issue of increased regional military activities in the area, which raises the very sensitive question of the role the Alliance could play in the High North region in the coming future.
38. In his speech, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed that the most appropriate role for NATO in the region “is as part of a comprehensive approach, involving other players like the Arctic Council and the EU”, adding that “NATO should continue to monitor developments, upgrade knowledge and look for opportunities for day to day business”. It is vital though, that NATO “does not get drawn down the path of regionalisation, because that is a path to fragmentation and we must avoid it at all costs”. A solid foundation of co-operation between Arctic countries is acknowledged but “the need to ensure transparency, build trust and work towards co-operation” with Russia, is also recognised as a necessary future achievement46.
39. The Loyal Arrow military exercises with participation of elements of the NATO Response Force, held in Northern Sweden in June 2009, indicate the Alliance’s increased focus on the Northern region. NATO member Norway decided to relocate the operational command headquarters of its armed forces from Stavanger in the South to Reitan beyond the Arctic Circle, a move “in line with the Government’s increased focus on the northern regions”.47
40. Territorial boundary claims, energy/resources disputes, new trans-Arctic shipping routes for international trade, the social and environmental impact of increased military activity, indigenous rights and needs, environmental protection issues (climate shifts, flora and fauna extinction): all these very sensitive matters will surely put the Arctic region at the forefront of international relations in the near future.
Map 1: Conflict Constellations induced by climate change
Source: WBGU 2007: World in Transition – Climate Change as a Security Risk.
41. Some experts have foreseen three types of current and future conflict scenarios triggered by climate change. First, resource wars driven by scarcity of vital industrial materials like oil and minerals; second, resource wars driven by global warming, such as water wars as precipitation declines in food-growing areas; and ultimately, as a possible consequence of resource wars, migratory wars, where people, forced to move from uninhabitable areas, spread instability to neighbouring regions48
42. Climate Change and Military Planning and Procurement Policies. An increasing number of military and intelligence analysts49 believes the changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges in coming years, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration, and pandemics. Moreover, climate-induced crisis could undermine governments, nourish terrorists and destabilize entire regions.
43. A key study on the relationship between climate change and national security, that generated considerable attention to this subject, was the 2007 National Security and the Threat of Climate Change Report by a panel of 11 retired three and four star US military generals and admirals. The report stressed that climate change should be defined as a national security threat and its consequences integrated into military planning.
44. The report made the following conclusions:
45. The report recommended the following:
46. War games and intelligence studies conducted in the US have identified several vulnerable regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southern Asia, which over the next two and three decades could face food and water shortages and severe flooding, potentially “demanding an American humanitarian relief or military response”. Africa Command, the US new military area of responsibility, will have to face extensive operational requirements given the region’s vulnerability to severe climate impacts50. US Military planners are also studying ways to protect their major naval stations in Norfolk, Va., and San Diego from climate-induced rising seas and severe storms. Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean that serves as a logistics hub for American and British forces in the Middle East, is also seen as a vulnerable installation in need of protection plans.51
47. The National Defense University52, a US Defense Department funded institution based in Washington, is now including climate change in its strategic analysis, using climate modeling based on advanced Navy and Air Force weather programs and research conducted by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) issued its first assessment of the national security implications of global warning in 2008. Its findings warned that the “demands of potential humanitarian responses may tax US military transportation and support force structures, resulting in a strained readiness posture and decreased strategic depth for combat operation”53.
48. At present, the June 2008 US National Defense Strategy considers climate change as merely cause for uncertainty in the strategic environment.54 Although the Obama Administration has not yet produced a National Security Strategy, several signs suggest it will embrace the view that the security dimensions of climate change must be addressed. Obama’s inaugural address and the defense and environment agendas posted on the White House website, speak of a global climate crisis and 21st century security threats that require new military capabilities, whole-of-government approaches, and mutual security alliances.55 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made climate change a “centerpiece of a broader, more vigorous engagement with China”56. Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson has openly embraced anti-global warming initiatives57; and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, in his first Annual Threat Assessment, revived the term “environmental security”58. Moreover, the Pentagon will include a climate section in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), due in February 2010, while the State Department will address the issue in its new Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review59.
49. The main issue facing governments and the military today is to foresee the kind of missions the armed forces will need to conduct in a world altered by severe climate changes, and to take into account the consequences of these changes on military equipment. Dr. Geoff Dabelko of the Woodrow Wilson Center in rethinking the Foundations of the US National Security Strategy. The QDR stressed that among the impacts of climate change on military roles and missions there are opportunities for Phase 0 shaping operations60, especially in Africa, to pursue environment-related development goals and use environmental-related activities around the world as military-to-military confidence building opportunities. When outlining the operational environment, the new US Army field manual on operations predicts that climate change will exacerbate the already difficult conditions in many developing countries, setting off massive humanitarian crises.61 The US Joint Forces Command’s Joint Operating Environment 2008 also identifies ponderous climate-change related threats and stresses the need for a specifically trained and properly equipped US military force.62
50. The UK armed forces also took a major step towards adapting their defence activities to a changing environment in the Climate Change Strategy63 published in December 2008. The strategy is one of three launched by the UK Ministry of Defence to couple issues of sustainable development and defence. While partly concerned with ensuring a low-carbon military, the report stressed the need “to agree and implement an effective process to enable defence activities to continually adapt to a changing climate.64” The strategy lists three key areas in need of adjustment to climate change effects: force structure planning, training in new climate scenarios and the need to launch cross-Government and International Climate Security planning with the US, key EU allies, China and India; development of equipment and services able to meet the challenges of the future climate in which defence forces will operate; and the need to ensure that a Defence Estate resilient to changes in weather patterns and the frequency and intensity of extreme events65. 2020 was indicated as the deadline when “all equipment entering service must be designed to operate effectively across the full range of foreseeable future operating environments”.66
51. Finally, most analysts67 identify four main recommendations for armed forces addressing the security challenge of climate change:
52. Increased poverty and food malnutrition. History shows that there is an evident correlation between temperature fluctuations and outbursts of violence. A 2007 study by Chinese, American and British researchers came to a conclusion that “long-term fluctuations of war frequency and population changes followed the cycles of temperature change”. The study points out that “shortage of food resources in populated areas increases the likelihood of armed conflicts, famines and epidemics”.68 The existence of this causal linkage is extremely disquieting since the scale of ongoing climate change is exceptional.
53. About three billion people are currently living in poverty around the world. It is projected that during next 50-100 years at least another two billion will be added to this category.69 Almost one billion people are undernourished, and if our planet warms by more than 2°C before the end of this century, the global crop productivity will decrease, further exacerbating the problem. The IPCC report claims that, due to climate change, yields from agriculture could drop by up to 50% in some African countries by 2020. Climate change-induced competition for food is widely believed to be the cause of the armed and humanitarian crises in Darfur and Rwanda. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has publicly stated that the root cause of the conflict in Darfur lies in climate change. The drop in rainfall by 30% over the past 40 years in the Sahara and the advancing desert led to tension between black farmers and Arab nomads, which turned into an ethnic conflict between black and Arab populations of Sudan.70
54. Migration. One of the most obvious social consequences of climate change is the anticipated increase in migration from communities affected by the rising sea levels, droughts, floods and food shortages. If sea levels rise by one meter – a rather plausible scenario – Bangladesh alone would produce about 40 million migrants. The environmental scientist, Norman Myers, maintains that in the mid-1990s there were 25 million environmental migrants worldwide, and that this figure will reach 150 million by 205071, but these numbers need to be treated with caution. Migration is an extremely multifaceted phenomenon, and it is currently virtually impossible to evaluate the scope of environmental migration. According to the 2007 IPCC Working Group II Report, “studies of displacement within Bangladesh and to neighbouring India have drawn obvious links to increased flood hazard as a result of climate change. However, such migration also needs to be placed in the context of changing economic opportunities in the two countries and in the emerging mega-city of Dhaka, rising aspirations of the rural poor in Bangladesh, and rules on land inheritance and an ongoing process of land alienation in Bangladesh. (…) An argument can also be made that rising ethnic conflicts can be linked to competition over natural resources that are increasingly scarce as a result of climate change, but many other intervening and contributing causes of inter- and intra-group conflict need to be taken into account. For example, major environmentally-influenced conflicts in Africa have more to do with relative abundance of resources, e.g., oil, diamonds, cobalt, and gold, than with scarcity”.72
55. Despite the lack of reliable data, environmental migration is an important issue to follow as it is likely to become the most significant source of climate change-related national security threats. Forced and unexpected waves of climate refugees could replace the existing migration patterns with ones that our societies are not prepared for, generating hotspots of social upheaval, political turmoil and regional conflicts. According to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), China might face the need to resettle refugees from its coastal areas because of rising sea levels, and Russia may encounter increasing pressure on its sparsely populated Eastern territories, thus creating potential for tension between these two countries.73
56. An interesting aspect of migration, that might have an indirect effect in terms of national security, is the fact that most migrants are young males. By leaving their countries, they reduce the pool of recruitment for armed forces or insurgent groups. Their departure also increases pressure on the remaining males to concentrate on family obligations rather than on military endeavours.74
57. Water shortages. Historians widely believe that development of water management systems and irrigation was a cornerstone of the human civilisation, shaping social networks and political hierarchies. Redistribution of water resources triggered by global warming threatens to break down these societal structures and ties.
58. The climate change will have much greater adverse effect on those regions that are already poorly endowed with water. It is estimated, that by 2025 five billion people will be living in areas affected by water scarcity, 0.5 billion of them due to global warming.75 The tensions over water tend to grow in some regions: in the past seven years, there have been ten violent incidents in South Asia, compared with only three in the 53 previous years.76
59. A problematic issue related to water resources is that trying to increase water supply in one country can only be done at the expense of its downstream neighbours. For instance, 17% of Aral Sea basin water resources are located in Afghanistan. Harnessing a bigger share of these resources for the sake of Afghanistan’s agriculture is critically important for the reconstruction of the country. However, this could seriously deteriorate the situation in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan which could have negative implications for the stability of the Central Asian region.77 Water pollution by upstream countries can also poison relations between neighbours: for instance, the pollution of the Kura-Araks river basin in South Caucasus contributes to further deterioration of the already strained relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.78
60. It has to be noted that “water wars” have been extremely rare so far, and many experts are sceptical that water scarcity would lead to armed conflicts between riparian nations. In fact, this is an area where a number of promising multinational co-operation projects have been launched and could be launched in the future. Cross-border co-operation in the area of water management in the Balkans, Central and South Asia and between Israel and Jordan could significantly contribute to enhancing the broader political and security situation in these regions. For instance, productive cooperation between India and Pakistan on cross-border water management is one of the most important factors improving relations and alleviating tensions between the two countries.79
61. Diseases. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns facilitate the spread of some pathogens to populations that lack genetic or acquired immunity to them. According to the estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO), 154,000 people die each year from diseases whose spread was facilitated by climate change. If “business” continues as usual, this figure is projected to double by 2020.80 The IPCC findings indicate that rising temperature and increased precipitation in some previously non-malarial regions (e.g. Eastern Australia or the area around Nairobi, Kenya) create favourable conditions for Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria. Similarly, snails that transmit schistosomiasis and algal blooms that are correlated with cholera will be spreading to the regions with increased levels of precipitation. On the other hand, of course, the regions that are expected to become drier as a result of climate change, will see these diseases retreating.81
62. The linkage between the spread of diseases and national security is indirect. Eminent experts, including the Nobel-prize winner in Economic Sciences, Robert Fogel, believe that population health is the key driver of the economy: disease erodes productivity, reduces savings and investments and is particularly detrimental to the labour-intensive developing economies. It is estimated that malaria causes 1.3% drag on GDP growth in countries where it is endemic.82 In this context, disease contributes to overall poverty and social tensions in affected countries and regions, which could hypothetically spill into outbursts of violence. However, further studies are needed to objectively assess the correlation between the spread of diseases and global security. Some even argue that epidemics “brought states together more often than they drove them apart”.83 It is possible that the International and Regional co-operation in the field of disease control as well as the contribution of international organisations such as International Red Cross and the WHO offset the risks to national security posed by the spread of diseases.
63. Natural disasters. It is estimated that natural disasters annually affect around 250 million people worldwide. The recent study by Oxfam International predicts that this figure will reach 375 million by 2015. Climate-change related disasters, such as such as droughts and floods are significantly more frequent and devastating than events unrelated to climate change, such as earthquakes.84
64. The increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events requires developed early warning systems and humanitarian crisis management capabilities. Even the United States, with its vast resources, found it extremely challenging to deal with Hurricane Katrina. The majority of the most vulnerable nations are ill-prepared for this type of disasters. While not a national security threat in themselves, extreme weather events could generate new waves of migration, trigger internal political instability as well as intensifying the struggle for food, water and other vital resources.
65. Although scientists progressively increase their understanding of the climate change phenomenon, the number of variables is so great that the current projections could change dramatically. Most of the predictions derive from the assumption that the climate will be changing gradually. However, one cannot rule out the possibility of an abrupt climate change once certain natural thresholds (or “tipping points”) are crossed. For instance, the sudden release of methane trapped in the Siberian tundra, or the shutdown of the oceanic conveyor, could have consequences that are almost impossible to predict at the moment and impossible to prepare for. Abrupt climate change is a classical “low probability/high consequence” case and there is no straightforward way to deal with this dilemma.
66. Theoretically, both civil society and policymakers recognise the challenge of climate change. According to the poll conducted by the 2008 Climate Confidence Monitor in 12 industrial and developing countries, 77% of people want their governments to do more to reduce carbon emissions. Even in China, popular support for more substantial emission cuts reaches 62%. However, when it comes to more specific measures and personal sacrifices, the support drops dramatically – only half of the respondents are willing to change their lifestyles to reduce their carbon footprint.85
67. Convincing the public and the policymakers to seriously address climate change is a considerable challenge, because this problem does not seem to be urgent: it can take years or even decades before one encounters adverse effects of the ongoing, gradual changes. Moreover, the planet could experience spells of several years when average temperatures are in fact decreasing, prompting some to conclude that “the global warming is over”. From a longer term perspective the warming trend is undeniable, but this fact often goes unnoticed.
68. On the other hand, taking resolute actions can be discouraged by a sense of inevitability about climate change. To some degree, global warming is already irreversible. The world’s oceans are absorbing about 90% of all extra heat generated by greenhouses gases, and this huge water reservoir will continue to warm up the planet’s atmosphere for years to come.86 Even if mankind cut all carbon emissions altogether, it would take decades and even centuries for nature and the oceans to absorb all extra CO2 that is already in the atmosphere. Even by the year 3000, the concentration of CO2 would be higher that in the pre-industrial era by one third.87 “Overselling” the challenge of climate change and exaggerating its adverse effects is, in fact, counterproductive.
69. Your Rapporteur is nevertheless convinced that the international community in general and the nations of the North Atlantic Alliance in particular must redouble their efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. Business as usual is not an option and failure to act now will result in dire consequences for global and national security, as well as multiple other issues. NATO needs to include the consideration of security implications of climate change on its agenda; this subject also has to feature in the new Strategic Concept. Climate change implications should also be integral to military planning. Our national defence structures should contribute to global mitigation efforts by reducing their carbon footprint (the US defence sector, for instance, is the single largest energy consumer in the US). Military research should also dedicate more efforts to developing greener technologies that could also be used in the civilian sector. Energy saving technologies and best practices resulting from the civilian research sector might also be applied to military equipment and operations. Overall, it is important to enhance the dialogue between the environment community and the military. A successful start was made at the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) World Conference in Barcelona, where a round table on 'Defence and Environment' took place on 6 October 2008."
70. The High North must feature more prominently on NATO’s agenda. After all, all nations in the region, except Russia, are members of the Alliance. NATO must find ways to contribute to increasing security and preventing the rise of tension and emergence of risks in this region, primarily by providing emergency response capabilities and information sharing mechanisms. The Alliance must demonstrate its solidarity, but it should aim to complement, not to replace other multinational structures in the region. Developing constructive co-operation with Russia is essential in order to achieve durable solutions for the future of the Arctic.
71. Most importantly, nations of the Euro-Atlantic community must provide leadership in drawing up an ambitious and universal post-Kyoto deal. Basically, the outline of the new climate pact is straightforward: it should impose greater emission cuts for industrialised countries and include commitments by developing countries to limit their emissions as well, in return for assistance with greener technology and money. Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism is already there as a tool with which to transfer Western technology and financial assistance to the developing world, but it is clearly not sufficient and needs to be supplemented by a global fund or another type of assistance mechanism. The universal carbon trading system must not contain loopholes that would provide inexpensive ways to continue carbon-emitting activities.
72. In today’s context of the global financial and economic crisis, Your Rapporteur wishes to conclude by quoting Yvo de Boer, UN chief climate negotiator: “the financial crisis is the result of our living beyond our financial means. The climate crisis is the result of our living beyond our planet’s means”.