Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tackling climate change from a security perspective

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  2. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
  3. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Tackling climate change from a security perspective


What to study?

  • For Prelims: UNSC; key facts.
  • For Mains: Declaring Climate Change as a security issue- need, concerns associated and alternatives available.


Why in News? As climate change is increasingly recognized as a “threat multiplier” by scientists, political representatives, and civil society across the world, the United Nations Security Council recently held an open debate to discuss its concrete impact on peace and security, and focus on tangible ways to diminish the effects of global warming.

However, India has questioned the rush at the UN to declare climate change an international security issue.


India has pointed out the following pitfalls arising from viewing actions to tackle climate change from a security perspective:

  1. Declaring so potentially give the Security Council the right to take action on it. A “mere decision of the Council” to take over enforcement of climate change action will disrupt the Paris Agreement and multilateral efforts to find solutions.
  2. UNSC may not also be suitable to lead a global response to a problem that requires collaboration of all countries and stakeholders. A security approach to a critical challenge facing humanity may in fact hinder the global collective effort.
  3. A securitised approach could also end up pitting countries into a competition when the most productive approach is cooperation.
  4. Thinking in security terms usually engenders overly militarised solutions to problems, which inherently require non-military responses to resolve. It brings the wrong actors to the table.
  5. Also, climate-related disasters may not amenable to the processes and solutions used to tackle threats to international peace and security. Mitigation and adaptation strategies may not be fulfilled through enforcement action.


Positive sides:

  • Since international peace and security considerations lead to increased focus on issues, defining climate change as a security challenge could lead to an upgrade in attention and resources devoted to addressing it.
  • Securitising climate change may also help heighten public awareness and help surmounting opposition to addressing the issue.


Why regard climate change as a national security threat?

  1. Climate change has “a multitude of security impacts” with global warming records broken in 20 of the last 22 years.
  2. Few say that there is no bigger security threat than climate change because it endangers the very existence of countries like Maldives.
  3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report in October predicting more heat waves, heavier rain events, higher sea levels and severe damage to agriculture represents “a security risk for the entire world.”
  4. Also, the global average greenhouse gas concentrations of carbon dioxide – which causes global warming – continued rising to record levels in 2018-2019. The last time the Earth experienced similar concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and sea level was 10-20 metres higher than now.


Way ahead:

Climate change is not a threat to international peace and security and should only be discussed in specific cases where it is a risk factor. However, enough attention needs to be given as World Economic Forum has ranked extreme weather, natural disasters, climate change and water crises as the top four existential threats in its new Global Risks Report 2019.


Key focus areas should be:

  1. Developing stronger analytical capacity with integrated risk assessment frameworks.
  2. Collecting stronger evidence base so good practices on climate risk prevention and management can be replicated in the field.
  3. Building and reinforcing partnerships to leverage existing capacities within and outside the UN system.


Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Declaring Climate Change as an international security issue is the best approach to handle the issue. Comment.