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The Climate Series

Part 4: Consequences for International Security

The earlier articles describe how climate change will affect how economic development will function going forward in the world’s poorer countries. The changes will have geopolitical consequences throughout the world. Mr Chandy predicts seven possible ways in which these changes will affect international security, although he does hedge a bit; he labels each of the seven as “hypotheses” and states directly that they are inconclusive. Instead, they are intended to provoke discussion, especially given how broadly these hypotheses span.

Conclusion 1: There will be a growing sense of grievance among the world’s poor countries, pitting the winners and losers of climate change against each other. This could include the re-emergence of the Non-Aligned Movement and Group of 77 as prominent factions in the multilateral system.

Conclusion 2: Increased salience of failed states that are deemed incapable of development as a result of climate change and thus impervious to foreign investment. Failed states act as an overlapping source of global instability with climate change.

Conclusion 3: Spheres of global risk defined more prominently by geography. Strategies for managing risk will have to respond accordingly, with greater emphasis put on weather patterns and linkages drawn across national borders.

Conclusion 4: Instability in economies whose exports are dominated by fossil fuels. The green transition in these countries should be expected to generate economic, political, and social upheaval, with effects potentially reverberating beyond national borders.

Conclusion 5: Power derived less from control of natural resources and potentially more from control of transmission routes for renewable energy and intellectual property of green technology. Norms regarding the use of green intellectual property are not set in stone and will determine whether such power is manifested or not.

Conclusion 6: More regular deployment of national and international security forces to assist communities affecting by crises. The normalization of post-disaster reconstruction, alongside humanitarian relief operations, will place greater demands on security forces and make their work more visible to civilians.

Conclusion 7: Increasing application of methods and tools (such as scenario planning and risk management) drawn from the security field into economic planning and global development. This has the promise of bringing greater alignment between the two policy communities.

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The Climate Series