The United States published extensive assessments of the climate crisis on Thursday, prepared by the White House, the US intelligence community and the Pentagon, which concluded that environmental changes will aggravate global security threats in the long run.
According to the set of publications, there is a growing concern in the US security system about the consequences of climate change based on Washington’s strategic interests, since new opportunities would arise for rivals such as China and Russia. Furthermore, in states like North Korea and Pakistan it could increase nuclear instability.
The intelligence community had never before done a National Intelligence Estimate linked to the weather. These are reference documents created by industry agencies that are intended to inform decision-making and analysis across government.
In the document, it is concluded that geopolitical tensions are likely to increase in the coming decades in the face of major natural catastrophes (floods, fires, hurricanes, droughts) that are added to political crises. What’s more, identified 11 countries in the acute risk category, as they are especially vulnerable to extreme events: Afghanistan, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea, Nicaragua and Pakistan.
Intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity under agency rules said climate change could indirectly affect the fight against terrorism by pushing people seeking food and shelter into violent groups. The intelligence community needs more science and integrate climate change into its analysis of other countries, they added.
For his part, the white house report focuses on migratory flows due to climate change and warns that extreme weather conditions can trigger conflicts and forced displacement, scenarios that can be exploited by countries like Russia and China. “In the absence of a robust strategy by the United States and Europe to address climate-related migration, China, Russia and other states could try to gain influence by providing direct support to affected countries facing political unrest related to migration.”, warned the government of Joe Biden.
“We assess that climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to US national security interests as physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions rise over how to respond to the challenge,” the document states. It also concludes that “Current policies and commitments are insufficient” to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Among its recommendations, it suggests monitoring the catastrophes that can generate climate refugees and directing humanitarian assistance so that the affected populations can cope with the disasters without being displaced. In addition, he suggests examining legal protections for refugees.
The United Nations estimates that there may be up to 200 million climate-displaced people worldwide by 2050.
While, the Pentagon Defense Climate Risk Assessment addresses the issue from a military perspective and highlights that China and other countries could take advantage of rising seas and melting glaciers. “Climate change affects most of the activities of this department, and this threat will continue to have increasing implications for the national security of the United StatesDefense Secretary Lloyd D. Austin III said in the foreword to the Pentagon report.
The three reports coincide in a growing concern of the US security system and are published days before the COP26 in Glasgow.
The Biden administration is eager to come to grips with the impacts of climate change ahead of the crucial UN climate conference, which begins later this month. This is especially true as the White House struggles to get congressmen to agree on multimillion-dollar measures to curb climate change, a key part of its domestic agenda.
(With Associated Press information)