Climate change and conflict in south Asia

  • Gautam P
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Abstract

It is now commonly accepted that small island countries are facing an existential threat because of global warming and the consequent rise in the level of the oceans. It is no wonder that in the UN Security Council debate on climate change as a security issue in 2007, speakers from Namibia, Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum) and Tuvalu likened climate change to war. Namibia and Tuvalu equated greenhouse gases to chemical warfare, and Tuvalu termed chimney stacks and exhaust pipes ‘weapons’. They claimed that the threat of climate change was just as dangerous as the threat posed to developed countries by guns and bombs.1 In South Asia it is being argued that climate change is leading to erratic monsoon patterns, flash floods, cyclones and even depletion of glacial cover in the upper Himalayas. There is a view that the gradual melting away of glaciers has resulted in reduced flows of water in Himalayan rivers, which could lead to resource-related conflicts among the states in the region. What should South Asian countries do to avoid the violent conflict(s) that may follow climate change? This article argues that this can be avoided if the correlation between climate change and conflict is understood and its impacts are dealt with in a spirit of cooperation

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Authors

  • P. K. Gautam

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