Debate

The security debate is not part of the development

Climate change exacerbates problems of poverty, environmental degradation and political instability, mainly in low-income countries, leading to 'climate war'. This makes them such a serious threat to human security that it should be a matter of course to include them in security policy analyzes. That is the opinion of Lorentz Tovatt, spokesman for Green Youth.

The security policy debate in Sweden has stalled. Despite countless crisis situations that occur due to climate change, the defense establishment ignores this so important security policy issue.

The meta-debate on what should be included in the concept of security continues. About a week ago argued Peter Haldén, a researcher at the Swedish National Defense College, because the concept of security should primarily include matters related to military violence. From this he then concluded that climate change is not a security policy issue. I, and many international researchers in the field, believe that he is doubly wrong.

Firstly, a modern view of security should be based on what creates security for citizens and states in the long term. Already today we see the consequences of a warmer climate. Storm Sandy pulled over New York just over a year ago, bringing chaos and devastation. This is just one example of the increasing number of extreme weather events, and if we continue to emit carbon dioxide at the current pace, they will continue at an even higher pace.

Haldén further argues that conflicts of interest as a result of a lack of natural resources can even lead to more cooperation, rather than crisis situations. What he misses in that analysis is who is affected by climate change. Today, it is hardly high-income countries (which generally find it easier to resolve conflicts through trade rather than violence) that are affected, but instead low-income countries with insecure states and institutions. Drought and increased precipitation mainly affect countries in Asia and Africa. In light of, among other things, this climate uncertainty (rising oil prices are also playing a role), the UN's agricultural agency FAO has warned of a global food crisis and higher food prices. We have already seen the result, in parts of Africa in the form of famine and riots.

In the light of all this, it should be obvious that climate change is so serious for human security that it should be included in all serious security policy analyzes.

Secondly, we should not underestimate the impact of climate change on strict military security. In the US Department of Defense's big report The Quadrennial Defense Review states that climate change is a security threat on several levels: “The effects of climate change are threats that will exacerbate several problems abroad; such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions - conditions that can result in terrorist activity and other forms of violence ”. Christian Parenti, British researcher and journalist, describes in his book Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence that a new era of "climate war" has begun. The book is based, among other things, on several years of travel that the author has made in the global south, in areas characterized by political instability and violence.

No matter how you twist and turn it, if you want to use a strict view of security or if you prefer a broader discussion, climate change is a real security threat. This is something that in many ways has passed the Swedish security debate.

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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