India, Climate Change and Security in South Asia

India, Climate Change and Security in South Asia

Source: Center for Climate and Security, 2017

Author(s): David Antos

Countries: Bangladesh, India

Topics: Climate Change, Land, Livelihoods, Renewable Resources

Added: 09/05/2017


South Asia faces a wide array of social, political, and economic issues that already threaten security in the regioni . The region has a history of border disputes, sectarian violence, and government corruption. In addition, population increases continue to stress the growing problems associated with urbanization, such as poor sanitation, the spread of disease, resource allocation, and meeting energy demands.. The region is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In this context, climate change could exacerbate existing insecurities in South Asia, and potentially heighten the likelihood of instability.

In the coming years, rising temperatures will likely lead to more frequent extreme weather events, such as flash floods, droughts and cyclones. According to a 2016 World Meteorological Organization report, uncharacteristic heat waves are already affecting many countries in South Asia. For example, Ahmedabad, India faced a crippling heatwave with temperatures reaching 46.8 degrees Celsius [~116 degrees Fahrenheit] in 2010. Following the high death toll that year, researchers from the Indian Insti tute of Public Health and Ahmedabad HeatClimate Study Group concluded there was a statistically significant correlation between the May 2010 heat wave and mortality rates, stating “ [the 2010 heat wave] had a substantial effect on all-cause excess mortality…”

Though uncertainties remain with respect to precisely where and how climate change will affect certain areas, there is enough certaintyvii on the severity of risks for governments to devote more attention to preventive measures. The region is already experiencing resource disputes over water and land. For example, disputes and conflict over allocation of the Indus River have plagued the history between India and Pakistani. Furthermore, migration pressures, some of which may already be driven by climaterelated phenomenon, have displaced millions of native Bangladeshis, and threaten to displace millions morex . Bangladesh is a geographically low country prone to climate change and sea level rise (SLR). In fact, the IPCC projections predict that a 1-meter SLR will affect 15 million Bangladeshi people in coastal areas, submerging 17,000km2 of land along the coast. Some of the resource allocation agreements and migration policies in India, and other parts of South Asia, are not comprehensive enough to deal with the added impacts of climate change. With these points of tension already threatening the region, the added stressors of climate change could result in several intrastate and interstate security risks.


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