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Climate change and risk of insecurity
Climate Change as a Security Risk, is a report published in December 2007 and prepared by the German Advisory Council on Global Change drawing on the work of international experts and organizations including UNEP.
The report suggests four 'climate-induced conflict constellations'. These are degradation of freshwaters; decline in food production; increase in storm and flood disasters and environmentally-induced migration.
It also tries to define and explain what may constitute vulnerable states and societies. These are likely to be ones that are in political transition and have a low level of economic activity with often large population or high population densities.
Countries bordering a neighbour in which violent conflict is being waged or ones that have themselves experienced violent conflicts in the very recent past within their own borders will also be vulnerable to renewed conflict in a climatically constrained world.
North Africa: The potential for political crisis and migratory pressure will intensify as a result of the interaction between increasing drought and water scarcity, high population growth, a drop in agricultural potential and poor political problem-solving capacities. The populous Nile Delta will beat risk from sea-level rise and salinization in agricultural areas.
Sahel zone: Climate change will cause additional environmental stress and social crises (e.g. drought, harvest failure, water scarcity) in a region already characterized by weak states (e.g. Somalia, Chad), civil wars (e.g. Sudan, Niger) and major refugee flows (Sudan: more than 690,000 people; Somalia: more than 390,000 people).
Southern Africa: Climate change could further weaken the economic potential of this region, whose countries already belong to the poorest in the world in most cases. It could also worsen the conditions for human security and overstretch the capacities of states in the region.
Central Asia: Above-average warming and glacial retreat will exacerbate the water, agricultural and distributional problems in a region which is already characterized by political and social tensions, civil war (Tajikistan) and conflicts over access to water and energy resources.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh: The impacts of climate change will be especially severe in this region: glacial retreat in the Himalayas will jeopardize the water supply for millions of people, changes to the annual monsoon will affect agriculture, and sea-level rise and cyclones will threaten human settlements around the populous Bay of Bengal.
These dynamics will increase the social crisis potential in a region which is already characterized by cross-border conflicts (India/Pakistan), and unstable governments (Bangladesh/Pakistan).
China: Climate change will intensify the existing environmental stress (e.g. air and water pollution, soil degradation) due to the increase in heat waves and droughts, which will worsen desertification and water scarcity in some parts of the country.
Sea-level rise and tropical cyclones will threaten the economically significant and populous east coast. The government¹s steering capacities could be overwhelmed by the rapid pace of modernization, environmental and social crises and the impacts of climate change.
Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico: Increased frequency of more intense hurricanes could overwhelm the economic and political problem-solving capacities in the region (especially in Central America).
Andean region and Amazonia: Faster glacial retreat in the Andes will worsen the region¹s water problems. The collapse of the Amazon rainforest, which cannot be ruled out, would radically alter South America¹s natural environment, with incalculable economic and social consequences.
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