Climate change a new factor in global tensions: EU
Brussels (AFP) March 7, 2008
The risks of climate change have turned from a threat to reality impacting the conflict in Darfur, migration from flood-prone Bangladesh and hopes for stability in the Middle East, according to a new EU report.
From Africa to Asia, and from pole to pole, climate change has become "a threat multiplier which exacerbates existing trends, tensions and instability," warns the seven-page report on "Climate change and international security", to be presented to a European summit in Brussels on March 13-14.
Among the listed threats are "reduction of arable land, widespread shortage of water, diminishing food and fish stocks, increased flooding and prolonged droughts."
These problems, according to the report drawn up by the offices of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, "are already happening in many parts of the world".
Even a temperature rise of two degrees Celsius by 2050 "will pose serious security risks".
Change beyond that level "will lead to unprecedented security scenarios, as it is likely to trigger a number of tipping points that could lead to further, accelerated, irreversible and largely unpredictable climate changes," the report warns.
"The core challenge is that climate change threatens to overburden states and regions which are already fragile and conflict prone," it adds, echoing a warning from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in January.
Receding coastlines and the submerging of large areas, including whole island states, means that "more disputes over land and maritime borders and other territorial rights are likely," the report stresses.
Africa is adjudged to be particularly vulnerable.
"Already today climate change is having a major impact on the conflict in and around Darfur," it states.
Throughout the continent reduced rainfall and increasing temperatures are taking their toll, bringing poor harvests.
Given these factors, migration both within Africa and towards Europe "is likely to intensify".
The UN predicts there will be millions of "environmental migrants" by 2020 which may in turn "increase conflicts in transit and destination areas," says the report.
In the Middle East, "existing tensions over access to water are almost certain to intensify in this region leading to further political instability with detrimental implications for Europe's energy security and other interests".
The security and environmental risks are joined and exacerbated by the economic risks, the report says.
It cited estimates that "a business as usual scenario" in dealing with climate change could cost the world economy up to 20 percent of GDP per year, with "the east coasts of China and India as well as the Caribbean region and Central America would be particurly effected."
The report's authors have no miracle cure to put forward.
Among its proposals is to build up early warning systems for disasters and intensify research and analysis.
The report stresses the importance of multilateral leadership notably among the major G8 nations and UN bodies.
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Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation
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