By Evan Barnard
In this episode, which explores climate security and the energy transition in Asia, Evan Barnard, a research fellow at the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), discusses the current state and prescience of climate security risks with Sarang Shidore. Mr. Shidore is the Director of Studies at the Quincy Institute and a Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), where he has co-authored multiple CCS reports on South Asia. He is also a Senior Research Analyst at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. As a South Asia international security expert, Mr. Shidore focuses on geopolitical risk and its intersection with the global energy transition and climate change.
This episode examines two recent CCS reports. The first report, Climate Security and the Strategic Energy Pathway in South Asia, includes an overview of regional natural resources, rivalries, and insecurities in Southeast Asia with expert guidance for evaluating climate change and the energy transition in the region. The second report, Melting Mountains, Mountain Tensions, explores the hydrogeopolitics of glacial water access and use among India, China, and Pakistan with an added level of security complexity. Written as part of a joint collaboration with the CSR Converging Risks Lab (CRL) and the Woodwell Climate Research Center, the report is accompanied by an interactive story map.
According to Mr. Shidore, the lack of water cooperation in the region is geopolitically and geostrategically consequential. In a region that floods when the riverbanks overflow, more upstream dams are likely to result in more flooding. Also, no river treaty like the Indus Waters Treaty exists for the Brahmaputra River. Mr. Shidore encourages the upstream and downstream parties to conduct “data diplomacy,” sharing adequate data on adequate timescales to rebuild trust between the countries and reduce conflict risk. Sustained cooperation and dialogue may also open the possibility for joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations in the region.
Mr. Shidore suggests that we need greater forecasting, investment, and dialogue. Discrepancies in changes in micro-climates in South Asia can be large and challenging to forecast, but decreasing uncertainty in monsoon predictions could change South Asian agricultural livelihoods and potentially save lives. Making communities more resilient to climate change effects improves communities and the populations that live there, thus bolstering climate resilience in the region. Investment in early warning systems would also supplement the region’s climate resilience to minimize the effects of sudden events like flooding. In the inevitable cases of friction over the use of the Brahmaputra and Indus Rivers, avenues for dialogue to build trust and confidence can help resolve these conflicts.
For further reading, please check out the CCS Climate Security and the Strategic Energy Pathway in South Asia report, the CRL Melting Mountains, Mountain Tensions report, and the CRL Melting Mountains, Mountain Tensions story map.