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Yesterday the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy released its annual list of top geopolitical risks for 2019. While themes like cyberwarfare, the US-China relationship, and the rise of populism made the ranking we were surprised to see that there was no mention of climate change. In 2018 we saw unprecedented droughts in much of the world but especially across Europe and Australia (as well as continuing drought in Africa and the Caribbean) and a major city (Cape Town) came within inches of completely running out of water. In addition, the migrant caravan of Central American refugees seeking asylum in the United States was fueled by gang violence but experts say the deep underlying cause is actually due to climate change which is forcing farmers off their land and pushing millions of people deeper into poverty (we saw something similar happen in the Syria conflict which led to the rise of ISIS). These, along with countless other, climate change-derived issues will only continue to grow more dire as our planet warms–the bad news is that 2018 was the 4th hottest year on record with numerous countries and cities reaching all-time highs that even led to national emergencies in several cases.
The UN itself has even said that climate change has the capacity to completely destabilize our planet if proper action isn’t taken especially by wealthy nations (i.e. the ones who would pay most attention to the Eurasia Group report). Here is some more evidence that climate change should make the top of every geopolitical risk ranking:
A UN report revealed that people living in mountainous regions (roughly 25 percent of the Earth’s land area) across the planet face disproportionate and dire risks from climate change like avalanches, flooding, drought, and wildfire.
Why This Matters: As climate policy expert, Michelle Melton, wrote for Lawfare recently, “The question for the next hundred years is not, “are disparities politically and economically manageable?” but, “can the global order, premised on the nation-state system, itself based on territorial sovereignty, survive in a world in which substantial swathes of territory are potentially uninhabitable?”” If we don’t have an inhabitable planet capable of sustaining the world’s population then nothing else matters. What’s startling is how many people don’t see climate change as an immediate and existential threat or one that will harm them personally. We drastically need to dispel that mindset and we get there by having trusted institutions take climate risk seriously themselves.
Yesterday at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to achieve “carbon neutrality before 2060” with the aim of hitting peak emissions before 2030. China had choice words for the Trump administration and its complete lack of international leadership on climate change action. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang […]
The world’s richest one percent cause more than double the CO2 of the poorest 50% according to a new study from Oxfam. From 1990 to 2015, CO2 emissions rose by 60%; experts saw the wealthiest one percent’s emissions rise three times more than those of the poorest half during that period.
Why this matters: While the wealthiest indulge in luxuries that contribute more to climate change, a federal report found that the poor will be among the earliest victims of climate crises and will be impacted the most.
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