July 28, 2013

The Age of Consequences

CSIS-CNAS: Security Implications of Climate Change

Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965):
The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close.
In its place we are entering a period of consequences.

Implications of Global Climate Change

  • Soft power and north-south tensions will increase
  • Migration and immigration will rise, producing a strong backlash
  • Public health problems will grow
  • Resource conflicts and vulnerabilities will intensify
  • Nuclear activity will increase, with attendant risks
  • Challenges to global governance will multiply
  • Domestic political repercussions and state failure will occur
  • The balance of power will shift in unpredictable ways
  • China’s role will be critical
  • The United States must come to terms with climate change

(p 106-8)

Environmental and National Security Implications of Three Climate Scenarios


Expected (2010-40)

  • Average 1.3°C warming
  • 0.23 meters of sea level rise
  • Approximately 30 year time frame

Severe (2010-40)

  • Average 2.6°C warming
  • 0.52 meters of sea level rise
  • Approximately 30 year time frame

Catastrophic (2040-2100)

  • Average 5.6°C warming
  • 2.0 meters of sea level rise
  • Approximately 100 year time frame

Environmental Stresses

Expected (2010-40)

  • Water scarcity affects up to 1.7 billion people
  • Changed distribution of some infectious disease vectors and allergenic pollen species
  • Up to 3 million additional people at risk of flooding
  • Up to 30 million more people at risk of hunger due to crop failure

Severe (2010-40)

  • Water scarcity affects up to 2 billion people
  • Increased burden from malnutrition, diarrheal, cardio-respiratory and infectious diseases
  • Up to 15 million additional people at risk of flooding
  • Changes in marine and ecosystems due to weakening of the meridional overturning circulation

Catastrophic (2040-2100)

  • Water scarcity affects 3.2 billion people
  • Increased morbidity and mortality from heat waves, floods, and droughts
  • Approximately 30% loss of coastal wetlands
  • Up to 120 million more people at risk of hunger due to crop failure
  • Possible collapse of the meridional overturning circulation

Security Implications

Expected (2010-40)

  • Conflict over resources due to and driving human migration
  • Immigrants — or even simply visitors — from a country in which there has been a significant disease outbreak may not be welcomed and could be subject to quarantine and lead to loss of national income from restricted tourism
  • Dissatisfaction with state governments could radicalize internal politics and create new safe havens [for violent extremists] in weak and failing states
  • A strengthened geopolitical hand for natural gas exporting countries and, potentially, biofuel exporting countries …
    [A] weakened hand, both strategically and economically, for importers of all fuel types
  • Social services will become increased burden on central government where available
  • The regional positions of Turkey and others will likely be strengthened as a result of the water crisis

Severe (2010-40)

  • Wealthiest members of society pull away from the rest of the population, undermining morale and viability of democratic governance
  • Global fish stocks may crash, enmeshing some nations in a struggle over dwindling supplies
  • Governments, lacking necessary resources, may privatize water supply …
    [Past] experience with this in poor societies suggests likelihood of violent protest and political upheaval
  • Globalization may end and rapid economic decline may begin, owing to the collapse of financial and production systems that depend on integrated worldwide systems
  • Corporations may become increasingly powerful relative to governments as the rich look to private services, engendering a new form of globalization in which transnational business becomes more powerful than states
  • Alliance systems and multilateral institutions may collapse — among them, the UN, as the Security Council fractures beyond compromise or repair

Catastrophic (2040-2100)

  • Migration toward US borders by millions of hungry and thirsty southern neighbors is likely to dominate US security and humanitarian concerns
  • A shrinking Russian population might have substantial difficulty preventing China from asserting control over much of Siberia and the Russian Far East …
    [A high] probability of conflict between two destabilized nuclear powers …
  • Rage at government’s inability to deal with the abrupt and unpredictable crises
  • Religious fervor, perhaps even a dramatic rise in millennial end-of-days cults
  • Hostility and violence toward migrants and minority groups
  • Altruism and generosity would likely be blunted
  • US military’s worldwide reach could be reduced substantially by logistics and the demand of missions near our shores
  • Electricity generation and distribution highly vulnerable to attack by [violent extremists] and rogue states

(Adapted from Table 3, p 104)


Planetary Defense
Security Implications of Global Climate Change

Center for Strategic and International Studies and Center for a New American Security

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.

    Setting the Negotiating Table

    Julianne Smith, Alexander T J Lennon, and Derek Mix

    [China, the EU and the United States] are responsible for roughly half of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), emitting 20.4, 14.1, and 14.7% of global GHG emissions, respectively [2000 figures].
    No other country is responsible for more than 5.7%.

    Europe’s Leadership

    The new Energy Policy for Europe (EPE) … approved by the spring 2007 European Council [committed the EU to unilaterally reduce] its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 (compared to 1990), with a pledge for 30% reduction should other developed countries follow suit.
    [The] EPE calls for the EU … to triple its use of renewable energy sources by 2020 to provide for 20% of overall consumption.
    (p 93)

    The plan additionally sets out, albeit in general terms, new regulatory measures to improve energy efficiency [by developing] energy-saving and low-carbon technologies. …

    [However, although there is] an EU-wide consensus on the issue of climate change and the need to address it does indeed exist, there are also 27 underlying national perspectives — not to mention those of non-EU members such as Norway on the importance of and best solution to the problem.

    As Europe’s largest economy, Germany’s planned 21% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2012 under Kyoto accounts for nearly three-quarters of the overall 8% EU reduction.
    … Europe is faced with the challenge of achieving a further 12% reduction between 2012 and 2020, and with its weighted portion factored in, Germany is looking at a total 40% reduction in CO2 generation over a 15-year period. …

    [The] United Kingdom [has] set about achieving its Kyoto commitment of a 12.5% emissions reduction by raising emissions standards for automakers, introducing a graduated auto tax based on fuel efficiency, and aiming to increase national use of biofuels.
    In March 2007 [Tony] Blair also set a long-term national goal of a 60% CO2 emissions reduction by 2050, which will be implemented through a series of five-year “carbon budgets.”
    Although it is debatable whether the UK is currently on pace to meet the target for 2050, it is on track to fulfill its Kyoto commitment.
    (p 94)

    [Nuclear power] provides for more than three-fourths of France’s power needs …

    The economies of the new member states of central and eastern Europe are generally far more dependent on coal, gas, and CO2-generating manufacturing than their western counterparts.
    Poland … derives 90% of its energy from coal. …
    Estonia’s renewables account for 1% of energy sources [compared to] Austria’s [which] account for 60%.
    These facts led the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to oppose the EPE. …

    The desirability and acceptability of nuclear power as a … topic of passionate debate in Europe [between:]
    • pro-nuclear energy countries such as the Czech Republic, Finland, France, and Slovakia on one side and
    • countries with broadly anti-nuclear publics, such as Austria, Denmark, and Ireland, on the other.
      [Under] the Red-Green government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Germany plans to do away with its nuclear plants, which currently provide one-third of the country’s power, by 2020. …
    In January 2007, the heads of BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, and Volkswagen sent a joint letter to the European Commission complaining that the EPE would unduly burden and harm the German auto industry.
    (p 95)

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