Experts discussed “Climate Security in the Indo-Pacific: Strategic Implications for Defence and Foreign Affairs” at a closed-door virtual roundtable of that title. Hosted by the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies on 23 February 2022, the event followed on from the previous public roundtable on climate security held in October 2021.
The roundtable began with a discussion on the importance of systems thinking to find practical pathways to address the global implications of climate change. The security impacts of climate change might not result only from direct effects, such as tensions emerging from drought or famine, but also from the reluctance of carbon emitters to move towards renewable forms of energy.
It was emphasised that the rapidly accelerating pace of the effects of climate change was evident in the increase in cascading disaster events over the past decade. The participants raised the importance of not relying on previous experience of climate change impacts to inform policies and to consider the forthcoming exponential impacts of climate change.
The roundtable also discussed the climate change policies of individual countries in the region. The informal nature of the climate change debate in India was highlighted. The participants discussed the potential incentives for militaries to take climate change seriously, as well as the negative implications of militarising climate change.
The discussion then turned to the different facets of the climate change conversation in Japan, from the effect of the geopolitical shifts caused by climate change on Japan to the importance of a whole-of-society approach to climate security. The participants also discussed the potential for domestic instability in Japan caused by climate change and queried the focus on climate change strategies outside Japan.
Finally, the discussion assessed China’s changing climate change strategy, including its hesitance to securitise climate change. The roundtable concluded with a discussion on the implications of climate change on relations across the Indo-Pacific and potential pathways forward.