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Solana Sounds Alarm over Climate Change Threats
European Commission warns for resource conflicts, environmental refugees, water shortages and floods
13 March 2008
Europe must prepare for increased competition over dwindling resources, waves of environmental refugees and resource conflicts. The impacts of the changing climate, such as reduction of arable land, widespread shortage of water, diminishing food and fish stocks, increased flooding and prolonged droughts, can exacerbate existing tensions and instability in the world.
These security risks posed by climate change are the subject of a report by the European Commission and EU's High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, that was presented to the European Council on March 13, 2008. The report considers the impact of climate change on international security and, in particular, Europe's own security, thereby indicating potential EU responses.
It is expected that climate change will fuel existing conflicts over depleting resources. Moreover, in coastal regions, such as in China, India, the Caribbean and Central America, sea-level rise and more frequent natural disasters pose a serious threat to the infrastructure and regional economies. Also, receding coastlines and submergence of large areas could result in loss of territory, including entire countries such as small island states.
Because of multiple stresses and low adaptive capacity, Africa is one of the continents most vulnerable to climate change. The report states that increasing droughts and rising temperatures will have a significant negative impact on regions highly vulnerable to conflict, such as the Horn of Africa. Due to poor harvests, several areas on the African continent may face food insecurity. As the UN expects millions of "environmental" migrants by 2020, Europe must anticipate increasing migratory pressure.
The European Council welcomed the report and underlined the importance of this issue. It invited the Council of Ministers to examine the paper and to submit recommendations on appropriate follow-up action, in particular, on how to intensify cooperation with third countries and regions regarding the impact of climate change on international security by December 2008 at the latest.