The climate crisis is likely to intensify cross-border clashes, exacerbate conflicts over water and migration and cause instability, especially in developing countries, in ways that could threaten global security, has warned the Biden administration on Thursday.
A series of reports released simultaneously by the White House, the U.S. intelligence community and the Department of Defense paint a grim picture of the series of security and humanitarian disasters that could strike immediately as the climate catastrophe continues to unfold.
They warn that rising temperatures and extreme physical effects are likely to lead to conflicts over water and the displacement of tens of millions of people over the next 30 years, including in the United States where the rise of the sea level, drought and forest fires are already threatening communities.
In one of the most disturbing forebodings, U.S. intelligence services predict that new disputes could erupt between countries seeking to unilaterally protect themselves by deploying a strategy known as large-scale solar geoengineering.
If a country concluded that international efforts to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels had failed, it could turn to its own use of geoengineering – an attempt to cool down. the planet by reflecting the sun’s rays back to space by injecting stratospheric aerosols or other risky techniques.
“Without an international agreement on these technologies, we believe that such a unilateral effort would likely cause a backlash,” the intelligence report said.
He added that such large-scale geoengineering could be disruptive internationally by distorting the Earth’s biosphere, in turn leading to changes in weather conditions that could have adverse effects in some regions.
“Depending on the scale and location of the deployment, this could change the weather systems in the United States,” the report warned.
The three National Intelligence Estimate, Pentagon and White House reports were commissioned by Joe Biden in February when he asked his National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to explore options for dealing with a migration increased due to climate. crisis.
The move comes as world leaders prepare to meet for crucial UN climate talks in Scotland later this month.
Among the trilogy of reports is the Biden administration’s first National Intelligence (NIE) estimate of the climate crisis.
The estimate warns that as the extreme physical impacts of rising temperatures and sea levels accelerate, they are likely to “exacerbate cross-border geopolitical flashpoints as states take action to protect their interests… Geopolitical tensions are likely to increase as countries increasingly argue over how to accelerate the reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions ”.
The worst effects are likely to be concentrated in the developing countries least able to cope. As a result, instability and internal strife could set in, according to the estimate.
“The United States and its partners face costly challenges that will become more difficult to manage without a concerted effort to reduce emissions and warming the ceiling. “
The NIE report highlights 11 countries particularly vulnerable to crises in their energy, food and water supplies: Afghanistan, Burma, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia and Iraq.
The White House report focuses on what it predicts will be the “tens of millions of people likely to be displaced over the next two to three decades due to a large extent to the impacts of climate change.”
Already, more than 21 million people were forcibly displaced each year between 2008 and 2016 due to weather hazards, and the manifestation of this vast human movement is likely to be increasingly cross-border.
The potential political and military fallout could also pose a threat to the United States, the reports also warn. U.S. allies could be destabilized by migration emanating from the climate crisis, while adversaries such as China and Russia could exploit the moment and “seek to gain influence by providing direct support to affected countries in grips. with political unrest linked to migration ”.
The Pentagon report makes a special case for the Indo-Pacific region. Rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions could endanger America’s “war infrastructure”, for example in Guam, the Marshall Islands and Palau, where the United States has a significant military presence.