The United States is the only country in the world opposed to the United National Climate Change accord. Despite President Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement, Austin is taking a lead in tackling climate change, and we are fortunate to have a leading international expert on climate change to launch a new series, “World Spins.”
The rest of the world, including China, India and the European Union, reaffirmed their commitments. Challenging the federal decision, 346 U.S. governors, mayors – including Austin’s own Mayor Steve Adler — and struck a defiant pose, the Federal government declined to make a commitment.
“With the Paris agreement, we finally developed a global approach to climate change that had the best chance of success. What we need is for the rest of the world and state and local actors in the U.S. to hold the line in the hopes that we will once again have leadership at the national level in the United States that recognizes the severity of the problem,” said Dr. Josh Busby, an internationally-recognized authority on climate change and delegate to the last November’s Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, held Nov. 6-17 in Bonn, Germany.
While climate change is often perceived as a partisan issue, national security experts are taking a closer look at its implications. In written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asserted that climate change is a driver of instability. Former CIA director James Clapper also stated that climate change contributes to instability, and as population centers compete for dwindling resources, governments will find it increasingly difficult to maintain order.
“The security consequences of climate change include large-scale humanitarian emergencies that may require military mobilization to protect people from dying both at home and abroad, as we saw after Hurricane Katrina and more recently after Hurricane Maria,” Busby said. “We may also see climate change exacerbate social tensions and undermine political stability in conflict-prone countries around the world through its effects on rainfall and food production, economic growth, disasters and migration.”
Dr. Joshua Busby, an associate professor of public affairs at the LBJ School and a Distinguished Scholar at the Strauss Center, began studying climate and security in 2004, is the lead researcher on a three-year, $1.9 million Department of Defense (DoD) funded project called “Complex Emergencies and Political Stability in Asia” that explores the causes and dynamics of complex emergencies in Asia and options for building government capacity to prevent and respond to such situations. This project follows a similar five-year, $7.6 million DoD-funded project in Africa called “Climate Change and African Political Stability” (CCAPS), on which Busby was a lead researcher.