April 22, 2013

Expected Climate Change

CSIS-CNAS: Security Implications of Climate Change

Scenario Overview

Time Span: 30 Years
Warming: 1.3°C
Sea Level Rise: 0.23 meters
There is no foreseeable political or technological solution that will enable us to avert many of the climatic impacts projected here. …
[This] scenario may be the best we can hope for.
It is certainly the least we ought to prepare for.
(p 55)

As a rule, wealthier countries (and wealthier individuals) will be better able to adapt to the impacts of climate change, while the disadvantaged will suffer the most. …
Consequently, even though the IPCC projects that the temperature increases at higher latitudes will be approximately twice the global average, it will be the developing nations in the Earth’s low latitudinal bands and sub-Saharan Africa that will be most adversely affected by climate change.
In the developing world even a relatively small climatic shift can trigger or exacerbate
  • food shortages,
  • water scarcity,
  • destructive weather events,
  • the spread of disease,
  • human migration, and
  • natural resource competition.
These crises are … interwoven and self-perpetuating: water shortages can lead to food shortages, which can lead to conflict over remaining resources, which can drive human migration, which, in turn, can create new food shortages in new regions. …

[Once the] first climate change domino [falls] — whether it be food scarcity or the outbreak of disease — [a cascade of geopolitical impacts ensues which becomes increasingly difficult to stop …]
(p 56)


Regional Sensitivity to Climate Change

Impact on Fuel Types


Washington DC.

  • The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, 5 November, 2007.
    Kurt M Campbell, Jay Gulledge, JR McNeill, John Podesta, Peter Ogden, Leon Fuerth, R James Woolsey, Alexander TJ Lennon, Julianne Smith, Richard Weitz and Derek Mix.


    John Podesta: President and CEO of the Center for American Progress; former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton.
    Peter Ogden: Senior National Security Analyst, Center for American Progress.

    Regional Sensitivity to Climate Change

    The United States, like most wealthy and technologically advanced countries, will not experience destabilizing levels of internal migration due to climate change …
    [Nevertheless, increasingly intense] tropical storms … will force the resettlement of people from coastal areas in the United States. …
    Northern Mexico will be subject to severe water shortages, which will drive immigration into the United States …
    Likewise, the damage caused by storms and rising sea levels in the coastal areas of the Caribbean islands … will increase the flow of immigrants from the region …

    [This migration] will widen the wealth gap between and within many [developing] countries.
    [And will] deprive them of sorely needed economic and intellectual capital as the business and educated elite [emigrate abroad] in greater numbers than ever before.

    South Asia
    [Coastal] areas, especially heavily populated mega-delta regions in South, East, and Southeast Asia, will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and, in some mega-deltas, flooding from the rivers.
    No region is more directly threatened by human migration than is South Asia.
    (p 56)

    Bangladesh … will be threatened by devastating floods and other damage from monsoons, melting glaciers, and tropical cyclones that originate in the Bay of Bengal, as well as water contamination and ecosystem destruction caused by rising sea levels.

    The population of Bangladesh … is anticipated to increase [from 142 to approximately 242] million people during the next few decades …
    [At the same time] climate change and other environmental factors will [render] low-lying regions of the country uninhabitable.
    Many of the displaced will move inland [fomenting] instability as [they compete for] scarce resources with the established residents.
    Others will seek to migrate abroad [increasing] political tension [in South Asia,] Europe and Southeast Asia …

    India will struggle to cope with a surge of displaced people from Bangladesh, in addition to [approximately 4 million people] who will [progressively migrate] from the small islands in the Bay of Bengal that are being slowly swallowed by the rising sea. …

    Bangladeshi migrants will [traverse] many contested borders and territories, such as those between India, Pakistan, and China.
    Already, [India is constructing a] 2,100 mile, 2.5 meter high iron border fence [along the Bangladeshi border modeled on the Israeli West Bank barrier. …]

    In the wake of the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan … hundreds of Taliban and jihadists found safe haven in Bangladesh.
    The combination of deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, radical Islamic political groups, and dire environmental insecurity brought on by climate change could prove a volatile mix …

    The World Bank estimates that 40% of all overseas development assistance and concessional finance is devoted to activities that will be affected by climate change …
    [However, many] of the projects [do not] adequately account for the impact [of] climate change …

    In Nepal … climate change is contributing to … “glacial lake outburst,” in which violent flood waves [of up to 15 meters in height sweep away] downstream settlements, dams [and] bridges …
    Millions of dollars in recent investment have been lost because … infrastructure design [largely failed] to take these … floods into account.
    [This, in a country struggling to] preserve a fragile peace and reintegrate tens of thousands of Maoist insurgents.
    (p 57)

    Nigeria and East Africa

    Nigeria will suffer from climate-induced drought, desertification, and sea level rise.
    Already, approximately 1,350 square miles of Nigerian land turns to desert each year, forcing both farmers and herdsmen to abandon their homes. …
    … Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and three-fourths of the population is under the age of 30 …
    {Nigeria is the world’s eighth largest (and Africa’s single largest) oil exporter …}
    [The] Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has carried out a successful campaign of armed attacks, sabotage, and kidnappings that has forced a shutdown of 25% of the country’s oil output. …
    … Nigeria must also contend with a Biafran separatist movement in its southeast.

    [Nevertheless, the] threat of regional conflagration … is highest in East Africa because of the concentration of weak or failing states, the numerous unresolved political disputes, and the severe impacts of climate change.
    [During] the next 30 years — a 5 to 20% increase in rainfall during the winter months will cause flooding and soil erosion, while a 5 to 10% decrease in the summer months will cause severe droughts.
    This will jeopardize the livelihoods of millions of people …
    [Agriculture] constitutes some 40% of East Africa’s GDP and 80% of the population earns a living from agriculture.
    (p 58)

    In Darfur … water shortages have already led to the desertification of large tracts of farmland and grassland.
    The fierce competition that emerged between farmers and herdsmen over the remaining arable land combined with simmering ethnic and religious tensions to help ignite the first genocide of the 21st century.
    This conflict has now spilled into Chad and the Central African Republic.

    [The] entire Horn of Africa continues to be threatened by a failed Somalia and other weak states.
    Al Qaeda cells are active in the region, and there is a danger that this area could become a central breeding ground and safe haven for jihadists as climate change pushes more states toward the brink of collapse.


    [The] expected decline in food production and fresh drinking water, combined with the increased conflict sparked by resource scarcity … will likely result in a surge in the number of Muslim immigrants to the European Union …

    If the backlash is sufficiently severe, the EU’s cohesion will be tested. …
    In 2005, for instance, Spain granted amnesty to some 600,000 undocumented immigrants, and yet could provide few assurances that they would remain within Spain’s borders.
    The number of Africans who attempt to reach the Spanish Canary Islands — the southernmost European Union territory — has more than doubled since then.
    In 2006, at least 20,000 Africans attempted the perilous [and often fatal] journey. …

    While the influx of [Muslim and non-Muslim] immigrants from Africa … will continue to be viewed by some as a potential catalyst for economic growth at a time when the EU has a very low fertility rate, the viability of the EU’s loose border controls will be called into question …
    If a common immigration policy is not implemented, there is the possibility that significant border restrictions will reemerge …
    [This would] slow the European Union’s drive toward increased social, political, and economic integration.
    (p 59)

    Middle East and North Africa

    [Although] we are not likely to see “water wars” per se, countries will more aggressively pursue the kinds of technological and political solutions that currently enable them to exist in regions that are stretched past their water limits. …

    The Jordan River physically links the water interests of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority …
    [The] Tigris and Euphrates Rivers physically link the interests of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq.
    … 75% of all the water in the Middle East is located in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. …

    Israel [is] already extremely water poor [and] will only become more so.
    One thousand cubic meters of water per capita is considered the minimum amount of water necessary for an industrialized nation [and] by 2025, Israel will have fewer than 500 cubic meters of water per capita. …
    [Furthermore,] one-third of [its supply is] in the Golan Heights and another third is in the mountain aquifer that underlies the West Bank.

    Israel will need to [improve] its relationship with Turkey … if a proposed water trading agreement — in which Turkey would ship water directly to Israel in tankers — is [to be successfully forged]. …
    Israel’s relations with Syria will also be strained by its need for the water resources of the Golan Heights.
    (p 60)

    According to current projections the Middle Eastern and North African population could double in the next 50 years.
    In the Middle East, the fastest growing populations are in water-poor regions such as the Palestinian territories.

    China’s Climate Change Challenge

    China is believed to have surpassed the United States as the world’s largest national emitter of carbon dioxide (though … it lags far behind on a per capita basis) …
    [In addition, its] energy demand is projected to grow at a rate several times that of the United States for decades to come. …

    [Coal] constitutes approximately two-thirds of China’s primary energy consumption …
    … China has enormous coal reserves and coal is a far more cost-efficient energy source than imported natural gas at today’s prices.
    (p 61)

    China is now building traditional coal-fired power plants at a rate of almost one per week, each of which releases approximately 15,000 metric tons of CO2 per day.
    Today, coal use accounts for more than 80% of China’s carbon emissions, while automobile emissions only constitute approximately 6%.
    However … the size of China’s vehicle fleet is projected to grow from 37 million to as many as 370 million during the next 25 years. …

    China’s first national report on climate change, released in late 2006, projected that national wheat, corn, and rice yields could decrease by as much as 37% in the next few decades. …

    China … is severely affected by desertification …
    More than a quarter of China is already desert, and the Gobi is steadily expanding (it grew some 52,400 square kilometers between 1994 and 1999).
    [This] threatens the livelihoods of some 400 million people. …

    [In] December 2006 … the Yangtze River’s water level dropped to an all time low because of climate change.
    Northern China … will be subject to heat waves and droughts that will worsen existing water shortages.
    [Two-thirds] of China’s cities are [already] experiencing water shortages …
    Regions of China that benefit from some additional rainfall will … need to cope with an influx of migrants from water scarce areas.
    (p 62)

    To date, China has resisted policies and treaties that restrict its carbon emissions, opting instead to set its own energy intensity targets.
    The current national goal is to reduce energy intensity by 20% by 2010, and to quadruple GDP while only doubling energy growth by 2020.
    This target is considered extremely ambitious …


    The World Health Organization [estimates] that the number of deaths linked to climate change will exceed 300,000 per year by 2030, and the total number of lost disease-adjusted life years (DALYS) — a measurement that accounts also for injury and premature death — will [exceed] 11 million. …

    Water-borne and vector-borne diseases (such as malaria and dengue fever) will be [increasingly] prevalent in countries that experience significant additional rainfall due to climate change [eg Venezuela].
    Shortages of food or fresh drinking water will also render human populations both more susceptible to illness and less capable of rapidly recovering.
    Moreover, the risk of a pandemic is heightened when deteriorating conditions prompt human migration.
    (p 63)

    Impact of Climate Change on Fuel Types

    There will be significant foreign policy and national security consequences for energy exporting and importing countries alike, including
    • a strengthened geopolitical hand for natural gas exporting countries and, potentially, biofuel exporting countries as well;
    • a weakened hand, both strategically and economically, for importers of all fuel types, who will find themselves increasingly vulnerable to supply disruption;
    • growing nuclear safety and proliferation threats; and
    • a steady increase in the economic and environmental cost of delaying the implementation of global carbon reduction policies.


    Climate change will exert upward pressure on oil prices by causing supply disruptions and contributing to instability in some oil producing regions.
    (p 65)

    [Increased] frequency of major storms will lead to more damage to off-shore rigs and coastal refineries, while oil tanker shipments will be delayed by weather events. …
    Political instability in oil exporting countries will be exacerbated by climate change as well, leading to reduced output due to everything from acts of sabotage to lack of international investment.

    [The] United States is currently projected to import between 25 and 40% of its oil from Africa by 2015 …
    [The] adverse political and environmental conditions brought about by climate change may prevent Nigeria and the continent’s nine other oil exporting countries from expanding their existing oil production levels to meet this demand. …

    Oil-importing developing countries … will lose more than 3% of their GDP with each $10 increase in the price of oil. …

    Natural Gas

    The upward pressure that climate change exerts on the price of oil is likely to help drive demand for natural gas.
    Moreover, because natural gas is a less carbon-intensive energy source than coal or oil, it will become an increasingly attractive fuel choice … if stringent national or global carbon emission regulations are adopted.

    One likely development will be an increase in the size and scope of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market.
    (p 66)

    [The] geopolitical power of countries that are rich in natural gas will … grow significantly by mid-century. …
    Countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus will become more strategically important because they can offer energy supplies and routing alternatives to the Middle East and Russia.

    [Russia] stands to benefit the most from the growing strategic significance of natural gas, as well as from the environmental impacts of climate change in general.
    Russia holds by far the world’s largest proven natural gas reserves (almost twice those of Iran, the country with the second largest proven reserves) and currently supplies Europe with two-thirds of its imported natural gas.
    [Increased] temperatures could also open up ice-locked northern shipping routes for the export of LNG and oil throughout the year.

    … Russia has proven [its willingness] to use its energy assets for political leverage.
    In January 2006 … Russia dramatically increased the price of natural gas in the run up to the Ukrainian parliamentary elections.
    Ukraine refused to pay the new rates, which led to a supply reduction that left it — as well as several EU countries that are supplied through pipelines that run through Ukraine’s territory — short of natural gas in the middle of winter. …

    [If] NATO expands to include Ukraine, Georgia, or other countries that are embroiled in ongoing energy conflicts with Russia … the deliberate cutoff of energy supplies [could] trigger a compulsory Article 5 collective response …

    As Russia becomes an important supplier of energy to East Asia, the strategic interests of China and Russia may become more closely aligned, particularly with regard to Central Asia.
    [Russia and China's joint leadership of] the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional group that includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, [potentially gives them] significant influence over this critical region’s energy supplies and pipelines …
    At their July 2005 summit [SCO members called] for the closure of US military bases in the region, and before the end of the month the United States had been formally evicted from its base in Uzbekistan.
    (p 67)

    [A] natural gas cartel [could] develop out of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, in which Russia plays a role analogous to that played by Saudi Arabia within OPEC.


    For the first time in 16 years of forecasting worldwide energy use, the 2006 International Energy Outlook projects that the rate of growth in coal consumption will exceed that of natural gas. …
    In the absence of international carbon emission restraints, climate change will likely reinforce this trend by increasing the price of natural gas and oil relative to coal.

    Given coal’s low cost as a fuel source for electricity generation and its wide distribution among developed and developing nations, it is inconceivable that it can or will be largely replaced in the next 30 years. …
    … CCS technology [could] be deployed on a wide enough scale to [significantly reduce] carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants … if a global carbon emissions restriction or tax is in place and near-term government investment in R&D is increased.

    Nuclear Power

    The EIA projects … rapid growth in the nuclear sectors of non-OECD countries such as China.
    Two of the factors that drive the use of nuclear power are
    • high fossil fuel prices and
    • energy insecurity.
    [Climate change contributes] to both.

    There is a risk of proliferation associated with this fast expansion of nuclear power. …
    Approximately a dozen countries in the Middle East and North Africa have recently sought the International Atomic Energy Agency’s assistance in developing nuclear energy programs.
    (p 68)

    Despite these risks, however, nuclear power will continue to play an integral role in the energy strategies of many countries that are seeking to reduce their carbon emissions, making it all the more imperative that the international community redouble its nonproliferation efforts.


    Biomass fuels have the potential to emerge as a competitor to oil, particularly in the transportation sector.
    This is most likely to occur if a global carbon reduction policy is adopted that creates a strong market incentive for investments in both R&D and infrastructure for such fuels.
    The United States and Brazil currently account for more than 70% of global ethanol production …
    [Replacing] food crops with energy crops could have [significant impacts] on food prices around the world …
    [Policymakers] will need to monitor this issue closely as demand increases in the coming decades.


    The effects of climate change we describe in this scenario are … to a large degree inescapable.
    The scientific evidence is clear that we will see effects at least as dramatic as those we outline here. …
    It is critical that governments, particularly in the wealthier nations that have the requisite tools and resources, begin to plan on an urgent basis for how to prevent, mitigate, and manage the consequences of climate change.
    [Delay] risks touching off a chain reaction of [crises] that will be nearly impossible to stop once [firmly underway.]
    (p 69)

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