April 19, 2007Foreign AffairsSecurity

Brahma on climate change and national security

Getting along in a climate change-driven paradigm

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The national security aspects of climate change is getting more attention among India’s strategic affairs circles. Brahma Chellaney, writing in the RUSI journal (also on his blog) goes into some detail on the larger security implications for India: the conflict over water resources, the potential threat from mass migration and human insecurity.

Here is an excerpt from his conclusion:

Meeting the challenges posed by climate change, therefore, demands that sustained efforts begin now. That, in turn, means switching to a more climate-friendly path in development and energy needs. The only sure path to energy security, in any event, lies through renewable sources of energy. Renewables also offer clean energy.

For the foreseeable future, however, coal will continue to play a major role in meeting the electricity needs in southern Asia and China. However, India, China and other states need to embrace cleaner technologies, like coal gasification, that hold immense promise to cut down emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants contributing to acid rain, smog and respiratory illness. These newer technologies focus on carbon-capture methods, whether in pulverized coal plants (which grind coal into a dust before burning it to make electricity) or in ‘integrated gasification combined cycle’, or IGCC, plants (which convert coal into a gas that is burned to produce energy). High oil and gas prices are also making the clean coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology attractive…

Given that at best it can be slowed but not stopped, climate change needs to be embraced as a national security issue — but not in the way the Pentagon has toyed with the development of weather-modification technologies for military applications. Large states like India and China need to start seriously looking at ways they can innovate and get along in a climate change-driven paradigm. It will become imperative to build greater institutional and organizational capacity, along with efficient water management, early warning systems and new farm varieties. [Brahma Chellaney’s blog]Chellaney is right about the climate change-driven paradigm’. The problem is, we still don’t know what that paradigm will be.

Related Post: Climate changes foreign policy

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