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Climate change and its effects on the security of the Indian state

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    17th Apr, 2021
Climate change and its effects on the security of the Indian state


Climate change is emerging as one of the greatest threats to human security; it has and continues to change one way sees security - It is usually called a process that involves changes in the norm weather patterns especially too the whole planet. At the end of current century, average temperature above The Indian state is expected to grow by 4.4 degrees Celsius, which leads to overdose weather such as heat and cold waves, dust storms and excessive rain, exactly it affects the death rates more than the impact on the quality of general health in the country.

While the day-to-day lives of Indian citizens are bound to be affected by climate change in terms of livelihood and homes being affected around the coastal areas; degrading quality of food production due to sped up photosynthesis leading to nutrient reduction and increased exposure to an increasing frequency of extreme weather events, could have a significant impact on the country’s national security.

Key Points

As climate change is increasingly accepted as an “increasing threat” to scientists, politicians, and society around the world, the UN Security Council recently held an open debate to discuss its impact on peace and security, and focused on tangible measures to reduce the effects of global warming.

However, India has questioned the UN's speedy declaration of climate change as a global security issue.

Overview of Impact of Climate Change on India

The impact of climate change on India varies greatly from country to country. Its diverse environment presents a variety of challenges to climate change, and addressing such challenges will require a spatial allocation approach to manage potential impacts that involve greater stakeholder participation in research, planning, data collection and impact reduction. High levels of poverty in India, social and economic inequalities and dependence on a high labor market in agriculture could complicate the existing threats with the creation of new ones.

India has identified the following pitfalls from a climate-changing approach to climate change:

  • Announcing that would give the Security Council the right to take action. The "Council's mere decision" to take into account climate change will undermine the Paris Agreement and international efforts to find a solution.
  • The UNSC may and may not be ready to lead a global response to a crisis that requires international cooperation with stakeholders. The security approach to the critical challenge facing humanity can hinder international engagement efforts.
  • The safer approach can keep and put countries in competition where the method is more productive of cooperation.
  • Thinking about security principles often creates extremely powerful solutions to problems, which require non-military solutions to be resolved. It brings the wrong characters to the table.
  • Also, climate-related disasters may be out of place in the plans and solutions used to deal with the threat to global peace and security. Strategies for mitigation and adaptation may not be fulfilled through enforcement action.

Some aspects of climate change impact that may be more effective for national security are as follows:

  • Warming of the Indian Ocean. Extreme temperatures of the hot Indian Ocean are present increased by 1 degree Celsius during 1951–2015, which was higher than global warming of sea surface temperature. Temperatures above the Indian Ocean are expected to rise until the end of the 21st century.
  • Rain Changes. The report says it rained during the summer rainy season India's season dropped by 6 percent in 1951-2015. According to the report, “there has been a change in the past towards frequent dry spells (27% more in 1981–2011 compared to 1951–1980) and higher water level spells during the summer monsoon season”. Therefore, India will continue to witness extreme rain patterns due to climate changes.
  • As a result decreasing rainfall during the summer monsoon in the last seven decades and increasing variability of rains, India has become more vulnerable to droughts, in terms of frequency, intensity and location. The report highlights that by the end of the 21st century, India may face increased frequency and intensity of rainfall and at the same time may also see more areas affected by droughts.
  • Sea Level Rise. Due to the increased frequency of ice melting in the Arctic and thermal expansion of ocean water, sea levels are rising globally. The sea level rise in the North Indian Ocean (NIO) increased from 1.06 – 1.75mm per year during 1874– 2004 to 3.3mm per year during 1993 – 2017. Although this rise is congruent to the global mean sea level rise, it is an even more worrying trend for India considering its long coastline and thus increased vulnerability.
  • Tropical Cyclones. While the cyclones’ frequency, over the tropical Indian Ocean remained unchanged during 1951–2015, the frequency of very intense cyclones in the post-monsoon period has increased during 2000–2018.
  • Changes in the Himalayas. The Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) has witnessed a temperature rise of 1.3 degree Celsius during 1951–2014. The Himalayas have been experiencing declining snowfall and fast melting glaciers in recent decades. The mean surface temperature in the HKH may rise upto 5.2 degree Celsius by the end of the 21st century.

Why do you view climate change as a national security threat?

  • Climate change has “a myriad of safety impacts” on global warming records broken 20 years out of 22 years ago.
  • Few say that there is no greater security threat without climate change because it threatens the very existence of countries like the Maldives.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report in October predicts further heat, heavy rainfall events, high sea levels and severe agricultural damage represents a "global security risk."
  • Also, the natural rate of global warming of carbon dioxide - which causes global warming - has continued to rise in recording levels in 2018-2019. The last time the Earth felt the same concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warm and the sea was 10-20 meters higher than it is now.

Possible Impact on the Indian Military and National Security

Climate change is often portrayed as a powerful threat that will exacerbate conditions such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, current conflicts, and social instability. Its impact on developing countries, such as India, will be enormous compared to developed societies. This is because, more than half of the people in developing countries live in rural communities and rely on mainstream agriculture in the blows of the weather.

  • Additional Military Service. Soldiers worldwide are facing an increasing number of incidents when they are asked to respond to personnel problems and natural disasters. The Indian military, with a population of 1.4 million personnel and extensive technology in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR), is already seeing an increase in general authority. It has played a significant role in many HADR activities since 1960 during theKoyna Earthquake and more recently the Himalayan Tsunami (2013), Kashmir floods (2014), Cyclone Titli (2018) and latest being the overseas evacuation amid COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Indian military’s HADR activities are not restricted to India but extend to entire South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). A key example of this is the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, wherein the Indian military played a crucial role. India was the first responder among the international community to aid Nepal by conducting extensive rescue operations and providing necessary relief materials to the locals.
  • Though such activities are necessary, both internally and externally, and help the military and the country to gain greater favor, they are detrimental platforms and staff from their core responsibilities of managing the traditional security sector while placing an excessive burden on them. This means that the military spends a lot of time and effort away from its main task of protecting borders. The growing frequency of disasters related to climate change will gradually increase the impact on the country's military preparedness by traditional security threats.
  • Resource Collection and Conflict. A major concern in a country like India, which has the second largest population in the world, is facing a shortage of resources as climate change continues. Most important will be water which will also affect food availability. India is already the ‘13th most water-stressed country’ in the world10 and rainfall changes caused by climate change will only make things worse. Water scarcity will have a profound effect on the food and economic security of hundreds of millions of people.
    • According to a 2018 report by Niti Aayog on water management in the country, low-income athletes occupy about 50 percent of the country's population and account for 20 to 30 percent of India's agricultural output, thus posing a significant risk to food insecurity in the country.
    • The report also revealed that by 2030, the water crisis is expected to lead to about six percent of the country's GDP losses. There seems to be an increasing trend of overlapping traditional and non-traditional security threats, which is especially true for internal security.
    • The security context of resource shortage, mostly water, is not limited to national boundaries.
    • However, for water-stressed states like India and Pakistan, who are already engaged in a conflict over political differences, may lead to a clash over sharing of transnational rivers.
    • A Dutch institute— Water, Peace and Security’s (WPS) global early warning tool has already identified, with a claim of 86 per cent accuracy— India and Pakistan as two of the six places for future water conflicts.
  • Operational Readiness of the Military. Threats to military deployment due to climate change are related to military concerns around the world.
    • The deployment of Indian troops is also not immune to such threats. During Hurricane Hudhud, the Indian Navy lost the INR 2000 crore due to infrastructure damage.
    • In 2014 floods in Kashmir, a 50-kilometer border fence was damaged on Line of Control (LoC) and the international border at Jammu and Kashmir. Military engineering teams have been deployed in the emergency area, closing sensitive leaflets to prevent terrorists from filtering.
    • Problems will only increase for the Indian Army with their important deployments throughout the Himalayas at different high altitudes.
    • Climate change will increase unpredictable and unpredictable weather conditions, thus increasing the frequency of floods and volcanic eruptions and posing a serious threat to military equipment and infrastructure spread across India's most challenging borders.

Required Measures

Climate change is not a threat to international peace and security and should only be discussed in specific cases where it is a risk factor. However, enough attention needs to be given as World Economic Forum has ranked extreme weather, natural disasters, and climate change and water crises as the top four existential threats in its new Global Risks Report 2019.

Some recommendations for dealing with the challenges of climate change are as follows:

  • Minimum Database. Once government has begun publishing EnviStats — a report on environmental statistics, which helps to prioritize the consolidation of data collected by several government departments, departments and agencies. Government, therefore, can identify the most vulnerable regions in the country and begin to create comprehensive data to support decision-making by stakeholders at the grassroots level. This data should not only be set up for disasters and their areas but also for pre- and post-disaster risk factors including weather information, water levels in rivers and dams.
  • Risk Assessment and Audit. The Indian Armed Forces needs to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment and research of all its military deployments and programs across the country, using information available on the nature and methods of the past. The main objective should be to identify areas of frequent emergencies and appropriate risks and then to take the necessary steps to reduce future losses or to reduce readiness for war. This could mean the transformation of the visible designs of existing military infrastructure and also include the possibility of disasters of increasing magnitude during the first stages of the concept and design. There should be an assessment of the impact of the growing value and magnitude of the risks on the asset performance and the need to incorporate climate change components into long-term preparedness plans. Early warning systems need to be integrated into strategic planning and implementation. In the Himalayas,
  • For example, avalanche is a complex challenge. Extreme weather patterns such as strong snowstorms can greatly intensify the avalanche challenge. The Indian Army in particular is in danger in this, due to its large deployment in the Himalayas and the operation of operations that must be carried out regularly. To address this, the Indian Army could look at practices such as the unregulated avalanche used by countries like Sweden to prevent disasters and reduce risk. Similarly, because of the extreme weather conditions, extreme heat and cold can put undue stress on military equipment. In the US, work on luxury cars.

Key focus areas should be:

  • Developing stronger analytical capacity with integrated risk assessment frameworks.
  • Collecting stronger evidence base so good practices on climate risk prevention and management can be replicated in the field.
  • Building and reinforcing partnerships to leverage existing capacities within and outside the UN system.


The evidence surrounding climate change and its impact is growing stronger. Its impact on human health is not limited to economic activity but also protects physical security. Soldiers around the world will face the challenge of climate change. How well they cope with these inevitable changes will depend on how soon climate change is seen as a real threat to traditional and non-traditional security.

India faces many daunting challenges such as food and water crisis, health insecurity and the deterioration of law and order due to climate change. At the forefront of traditional security, the biggest challenge for the Indian military, when faced with effective borders on both sides, is to protect its heavily staffed bases along the Himalayas which are at high risk of natural disasters such as food, landslides and avalanches. Similarly, normal storms and rising sea levels will disrupt Indian Military operations. Appropriate measures must begin with a change of mind-set and the maintenance of climate change. The Indian Army must begin planning for the potential impact, possibly facing all spectrums — whether related to shipping facilities and the risks associated with those areas, equipment used or entry operations. The key to managing this threat is honest and timely movement towards comprehensive risk assessment and risk reduction.