Climate Change

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  • Climate Change and Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean Region

    Climate change is likely to influence maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The growing unpredictability in climate and weather patterns is having a disproportionate impact over the region. Not only is the IOR predicted to bear the brunt of future climatic changes, it is also likely to face strong constraints in meeting the coming threats. The effect of climate change on human security in the IOR is only likely to be matched by the impact of extreme weather conditions on naval operations and the security of maritime assets.

    January 2015

    Current Issues in Climate Change

    The problems caused by climate change have been recognised as one of the greatest concern of this century. The subject is futuristic, relevant and multi-disciplinary with many stakeholders. The matter encompasses not only the health of the planet itself, but also that of nations and individuals.

    Why is the UN Security Council Discussing Climate Change?

    The G8, Pakistan and the Pacific island states have pushed for a discussion in the United Nations (UN) Security Council on the security dimensions of climate change. As the issue gains momentum at the global and regional levels, India as an emerging power that continues to use energy and other natural resources, at the cost of stressing other countries, particularly its neighbours, will need to formulate a response.

    November 2013

    Srivatsan asked : Why should India collaborate with China in international climate change negotiations? Why should China be included in global south?

    Jagannath P. Panda replies: Like India, China has been of the view that there should be special categories to address the challenges of climate change in accordance with the interests and domestic priorities of the developing world. For example, taking the support of developing countries at the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, the head of the Chinese delegation, Xie Zhenhua, had stated: ‘climate change has emerged as a challenge basically due to unrestricted emissions by developed countries in their process of industrialisation, and developing countries remain the victims of climate change negotiation process’. Moreover, China has officially noted that it continues to help the developing countries to deal with the challenges of climate challenge, and that Beijing has earmarked $200 million in this regard. Also, China has financed climate change programmes in Africa, including in some least developed and small island countries; and, it has tried to bring a ‘South-South’ outlook in its stance on meeting the challenges posed by climate change.

    China to date remains the largest emitter of CO2 in the world and causes almost a quarter of the current global greenhouse gas emissions. Among the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa - India stands next to China as a leading emitter of CO2. BRICS, thus, is one forum where India must cooperate with China in climate change negotiations. Besides, China is also a member of BASIC along with Brazil, South Africa and India, where climate change issues are debated and addressed in an open manner. BASIC was created in December 2009 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the COP15 in Copenhagen. The politics just before the COP15 sufficiently indicated that developed countries would not initiate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if developing countries fail to do so, pointing mainly towards the two largest emitters from the developing world- China and India. Though in principle the BASIC countries agreed to carry forward climate change negotiations under the framework of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Roadmap, they realised that there has to be a greater understanding on the issue among the BASIC countries, making China-India cooperation a crucial one in this regard.

    Overall, both BRICS and BASIC justify the ‘South-South’ bonding to an extent, and offer a greater scope for cooperation in the ‘developing world’ on the issue of climate change. Therefore, India and China must cooperate in multilateral forums on climate change negotiations.

    Atul Rai asked: What will be the impact of climate change on international relations?

    P.K. Gautam replies: A very good question. As scholars in India are taught various streams of IR, I find the following idea very appealing as far as climate change is concerned:

    “The scientific debates, which are crucial for understanding problems of global commons, differ from many of the debates --- in that they do not follow the familiar perspective on international relations (IR). There is no realist or liberal position on whether the earth is warming and why” (Keith L. Shimko, “The Global Commons,” Chapter 13, International Relations: Perspectives, Controversies & Readings, Wadsworth: Cengage Learning; 4th edition, 2012, p. 323)

    Two major variables are in operation here. ‘A’ or behaviour of states for their national interest and power politics, is the first major variable. We may call it geopolitics. This behaviour has not changed much. In the last century, it may have been related to both the World Wars, but now the same attitude can be seen on all international issues like economics, WTO, resource struggle, climate change, etc. International negotiations and politics of climate change can be discerned via the lens ‘A’. Thus we have major developing countries, such as, BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), having one position of common but differentiated responsibility and equity, team up against the industrialised countries to demonstrate meaningful mitigation. This does not mean that Sino-Indian boundary issues are forgotten. It only shows the various levels of behaviour by same countries differently on major issues in world politics. Similarly, behaviour of Arctic Five (USA, Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark/Greenland) over snow melt due to climate change is another good example of climate change and IR as it leads to resources and new sea routes which will have far reaching implications in the long term. All five countries have their own national interests, possibly more important than climate change. Study of IR also shows that it is better to cooperate. IR can transfer this wisdom to peace research and conflict resolution as well.

    Second behaviour is ‘B’. This is about how issues of climate change, such as, mitigation and adaptation, are perceived. Regional relations can get strained by politicians blaming everything to climate change. Water treaties by India with its neighbours are good example of it. Changes in water flow data needs to be known across boundaries as a result of climate change. Climate change related intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are on the rise. This will demand regional and international disaster mitigation and response. This will again demand a cooperative discourse in IR.

    Anjan Kumar Sahu asked: The government has repeatedly been saying that climate change is not a security issue. But, what is the view of the Indian Army?

    P.K. Gautam replies: India is a responsible regional and global power.  The Indian Army is a part of the democratic system.  The report of the IDSA Working Group, “Security Implications of Climate Change for India” (Academic Foundation, New Delhi, 2009), explains why it is not considered as viable to take the issue of climate change as a security issue. India has the least per capita emission. Its securitisation in the sense of the Copenhagen School will make it more difficult and unfair. Rather, green consciousness of the Indian Army has been taken as a good practice at the international level, which has been covered in detail in my book, “Environmental Security: New Challenges and Role of the Military” (Shipra Publications, New Delhi, 2010). The Indian Army since the 1980s is the only army in the world which has had ecological task force battalions of the Territorial Army, undertaking greening projects in harsh terrain. The infantry which has the entire Himalayan border as combat zone is not very energy or carbon intensive. Carbon neutral foot and hoof mobility is the key which it sustains. Frugalness is also a virtue in war-fighting.

    But, overall, the military equipment of the three services is highly energy and material intensive. It is also destructive in its primary mission. It is incumbent that the Indian military also must be part of the adaptation and mitigation process of climate change and related matters, such as, arresting environmental degradation and restoration of natural capital with a green consciousness. The military’s effort in arresting climate change, including ozone depletion, is just one part of the spectrum. The Centre for Air Power Studies (New Delhi) is in the forefront of the initiatives on Montréal Protocol and Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) in the military, their reduction and phase out and banking till suitable replacements are found. Many foreign countries too have been assisted in this matter.

    For military operations under risks of climate change, you can also read my article, “Changing Geographical Factors in Planning and Conduct of Indian Military Operations”, Strategic Analysis, Vol. 32, Issue 2, March 2008 and  “Climate Change and the Military”, Journal of Defence Studies, Vol. 3, Issue 4, October 2009.

    Finally, the increasing role of military in climate-related disaster relief is well documented and will give you a new perspective. Military, to me, is part of the solution to climate change.

    Trends in Green House Gas Emissions of the USA

    The current decline in US emissions should not make us forget about climate change; a renewed push is necessary to discuss actions and policies that mitigate the complex issue of climate change.

    February 22, 2013

    Beijing is choking (and can't hide it anymore)

    Beijing’s smog, while recurrent, has been at its worst this winter and is an example of what is wrong with China’s political economy.

    January 15, 2013

    The Arctic: An Antithesis

    The Arctic ice is melting faster than predicted. In August 2012, calculations based on the satellite imagery indicated that the summer sea ice loss was 50 per cent higher than earlier estimates. 1 Scientific evidence now suggests that the Arctic, by the middle of the century, will be ice free in the summer. Scientists call it the ‘Arctic amplification’—the reduction in the ice cover not only reduces the reflection of the sunlight but also increases the absorption of heat as the darker water is exposed.

    January 2013

    Grand Strategy for India 2020 and Beyond

    Grand Strategy for India 2020 and Beyond
    • Publisher: Pentagon Security International

    This volume presents perspectives on cross-cutting issues of importance to India’s grand strategy in the second decade of the 21st century. The authors in this volume address the following important questions : What might India do to build a cohesive and peaceful domestic order in the coming decades? What should be India's China and Pakistan strategy? How could India foster a consensus on the global commons that serve India’s interests and values? What strategic framework will optimise India’s efforts to foster a stable and peaceful neighbourhood?

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-657-2,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available