Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Updated - Jeff Mazo's Climate Conflict Presentation

Updated from the previous post, I've been able to get the embed code for Jeff's presentation on his Adelphi Book Climate Conflict.  Its worth watching, and the book is worth buying

Launch in external player

Jeff Mazo answers questions on "Climate Conflict"

Last week, on Wednesday 21 April, 2010 Jeffrey Mazo, the IISS' Research Fellow for Environmental Security and Science Policy, launched his new Adelphi Book, Climate Conflict: How Global Warming Threatens Security and What to Do about it. I wrote a brief review of the book a few weeks ago, and it should be required reading for anyone interested in the security effects of climate change. His book takes a historical view of how past climate changes have affected security. 

I've attempted to embed the video of the launch event, including Jeff's Q&A below.  If your browser does not support the embedded video (mine is giving me trouble), you can watch the Launch and the Q & A Session by clicking through those links.

This is the Q&A Session, which I have embedded. Due to technical difficulties, I haven't been able to embed the presentation. I'd suggest that you click through the links above, and watch it in Windows Media Player.

Launch in external player

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Options For Kyrgyz Engagement on Energy Security in Central Asia

Below is a guest-post from IISS Intern Madeliene Foley, looking at the Energy Security and geopolitical implications of the coup in Kyrgyzstan.

The recent coup in Kyrgyzstan came on the heels of the completion of the Asia Gas Pipeline in December 2009, a project that is unprecedented in scale and extent of collaboration among regional powers. The coup is still causing reverberations throughout Central Asia -- a region increasingly dependent upon uninterrupted energy transit routes to China, Russia, and the West. Though it has no oil or natural gas, the now deposed President Bakiyev would have done well to leverage Kyrgyzstan’s strategic location to frame itself as a critically important transit route between oil-rich Kazakhstan and gas-rich Uzbekistan and their fastest growing customer- China.

Instead, the pipeline, which traverses Turkmen, Uzbek, Kazakh and Chinese territory, noticeably bypasses Kyrgyzstan. This can be attributed to early difficulties and missteps in negotiating favourable contract terms. However, Kyrgyzstan’s failure to market itself as a desirable transit route means that is has not cashed in on the recent growth in Central Asia’s energy sector, even though a glance at a map would show that it should be particularly well placed to receive some of China’s increased investment.

China’s interests in the region are an attempt to secure oil and gas supplies to continue and sustain its steady economic growth. It currently depends on sea access for 90% of its imports, which presents a critical threat to its energy security. The Asia Gas Pipeline and a second Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline will expand inland fuel transport capacity well beyond the current 10%. Securing crude oil is a top priority in Chinese energy policy as daily imports have grown from 2005 levels of 3.5 million barrels-per-day to 9 million bpd today.

Though they share a common border, Kyrgyzstan has no foreseeable plans to deepen its economic and infrastructural ties with China. Given that Kyrgyztsan has had difficulty meeting its own domestic power needs in the past, it would seriously behove the interim government to reach out to China on pipeline construction as they have to the US on automatically extending the Manas air base contract. The new Kyrgyz regime has thus far promised to cooperate with the US government in securing Manas, but there has been little speculation of how the coup will affect Central Asia’s energy industry.

Moreover, as Central Asian and Chinese leaders have grown closer and established deeper diplomatic and economic ties, Kyrgyzstan has remained isolated (note that Bakiyev is the notable Central Asian leader not pictured with Chinese President Hu Jintao). Skilful manoeuvring on Kyrgyzstan’s part now could secure its place as an integral transit route as Georgia has in the recent past. Kyrgyzstan’s best option at present is to reinvigorate its relationship with neighbouring states. Establishing a friendlier and more pragmatic regional outlook will both reassure neighbouring governments and lay the foundations for meaningful progress on energy infrastructure development in the future.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"The next war between India and Pakistan could be fought over water"

In a follow-up to my blog post earlier today "Can India and Pakistan Share the Indus?", I note that Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba earlier this week called for India to stop its 'Water terrorism'.  Water has long been a cause of tension between the two nations, but if one of the men most wanted by India takes it up as a cause, this issue could quickly become more dangerous. 

Saeed's remarks came on Sunday in Lahore, where he said:
The next war between India and Pakistan could be fought over water if India does not stop its ‘water terrorism’ 
Clearly, inflamatory language like this will not help the two nations to have a calm dialogue. 

Can India and Pakistan Share the Indus?

If this headline from Reuters is true "Rivers a source of rising tension between Pakistan and India" then we may be in trouble.  When you read the article, however, you see that it is mainly speculation about the future of the Indus, if climate changes change the river's flow.  This is an issue that the IISS has looked at very closely, most recently at a workshop titled Conflict and Competition over Changing Water Resources.

As the article quotes a representative from Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry:
High levels of poverty and population density also render both countries particularly vulnerable to climate change-related water shortages, said Munawar Saeed Bhatti, of Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs. 
Of the world's major cross-border rivers (the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Mekong, the Brahmaputra, and the Indus), this border is potentially the most dangerous. The border is shared by two historic, nuclear-armed, enemies who have fought 3 wars in the last fifty years. Many have persuasively argued that the Indus Water Treaty is a prime example of cooperation succeeding over conflict between neighbours sharing water supplies, but it has not been tested by reduced water flow. The Indus Water treaty assumes a constant, predicitable flow, and if the sustanence needs of Pakistan are not met, it is concievable that interstate conflict would ensue. 

The article also hints at ways to avoid conflict and adapt to changes.  Better water management in both Pakistan and India could significantly reduce the amount of water needed for agriculture, and prevent much of the waste.  Preventing water loss from poor irrigation could help solve the problem, or at least push it back.

Gwynne Dyer's new book Climate Wars argues that we could see a conflict within the next 20-30 years over the Indus.  He made a similar case at our workshop last July, mentioned above.  After the jump is a detailed analysis that came from that event. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Linking Energy Security and Climate Change

A few weeks ago, the IISS held a workshop on climate change and energy security.  During this workshop, there was a strong debate about whether climate change should be linked to energy security.  Below is a summary of the debate, and some proposed solutions that arose out of it.

Energy Security and climate change are often linked in public debate. An example of that is the Truman Project's "Operation Free" (see their ad here).  However, it is not self-evident that climate change will necessarily lead to energy insecurity, or vice versa. National energy security was generally defined during the workshop as a secure supply, open access, and protection from interruptions of that supply. No one at the conference espoused full energy independence (autarky) as being equivalent to energy security. The CNA has showed in their "Powering America's Defense" report that dependence on foreign energy supplies – particularly limited petroleum resources – presents a serious threat to security because it weakens international leverage, jeopardizes the military, and entangles the US government with hostile regimes.

Climate change direct threats to energy security, particularly to existing energy infrastructure. Examples of disruptions to energy supplies that could cause disruptions to energy supply include hurricanes damaging offshore oil rigs, droughts reducing hydro power availability, melting permafrost undermining pipelines, or heat waves causing rivers to be unusable to cool nuclear reactors. Some argue that these are minor threats in the energy security debate, and therefore climate change’s effect on energy security should not be portrayed as a strategic issue. On the other hand, we should be aware that there is great scientific uncertainty about the magnitude of climate change and whether there are any projected ‘tipping points’ that could lead to rapid, dangerous changes. What we don’t know, especially about variability, leads to more questions, and that should worry planners. Because small changes in climate could lead to large and unknown effects on complex and interrelated systems, like energy supplies, we should be very careful about predictions. If planners could predict events with 100% certainty, there would be no risks to security from climate change: we would choose to either adapt to or avoid the worst threats.

There is a sharp debatedivided on how closely related concerns about climate change were to concerns about energy security. The CNA (mentioned above) directly links climate change, energy dependence, and national security, stating that continued reliance on fossil fuels creates “an unacceptably high threat level from a series of converging risks” that include conflicts over fuel resources, destabilization driven by ongoing climate change, and threats to critical infrastructure. However, others argue that climate change is as much a security risk as other transnational factors, like religion or ethnicity, and governments should not raise it to the same priority as energy security. Portraying climate mitigation policies as ways to increase energy security could then be seen as a willful manipulation of the public.

Though there is sharp disagreement about how closely related the problems of climate change and energy security were, it should be clear that the solutions were linked. Even if we accept the premise that energy and climate security are two major and separate problems, they have the same solution: a move to a low-carbon economy. Energy security, particularly in the United States, means reducing dependence on oil imports. Petroleum products are largely used to transportation, which accounts for about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A focus on reducing oil usage in transportation could have important impacts on reducing emissions and energy security. The military can have an important role in fostering this switch, particularly to low-carbon transportation fuels. It is already pioneering new biofuels and efficiency measures. It can contribute to these as a technological innovator and early adopter. Fostering a change that would create a stable energy base and a secure climate is possible, but it requires strong leadership; nations should look to their militaries to help. Though energy security and climate change may not be technically connected, the problems have evolved together, and their solutions must run in parallel.