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It is only recently that the indirect consequences of climate change are being studied seriously at European level. The June 2007 European Council (item 41 of the conclusions) officially requested the High Representative, Javier Solana, and the European Commission (Benita Ferrero-Waldner in fact), already co-authors of a note on the EU's external energy policy, to renew their collaboration so that they may produce a common report on the consequences of climate change for international security, which will be discussed at the March 2008 European Council.

Threat to international security

And in the meantime the number of studies on the potential dangers of climate change, rises worldwide.

A very recent report "A climate of conflict", by the independent peacebuilding organisation International Alert, suggests that in 46 countries - home to 2.7 billion people - the effects of climate change interacting with economic, social and political problems will create a high risk of violent conflict. A second group of 56 countries - home to 1.2 billion people - where the institutions of government will have great difficulty taking the strain of climate change on top of all their other current challenges, face the risk of instability. According to the NGO, adaptation to climate change and peacebuilding go hand in hand as a unified solution in such countries.

According to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 22 June 2007, climate change (reduction in rainfall) is partially to blame for the war in Darfur in the West of Sudan. "Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change", stated Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.

Already in February 2004, the British newspaper The Observer' revealed the existence of a Pentagon report predicting the end of the climate as we know it, with mainland Europe experiencing Siberian temperatures, floods in major European cities, famine, droughts and above all the threat of war between countries wanting to guarantee their supplies of energy, water and food. It was noted at the time that this report did not sit well with the American president who continued to deny the existence of global warming. The authors, Peter Schwartz, a CIA consultant and ex Director of planning at Shell, and Doug Randall from Global Business Network, then warned that 8,200 years ago, similar climate conditions had lead to inadequate harvests, famine, epidemics and large scale immigration which could happen again. The publication of the report did not however prevent George Bush from being re-elected: the fight against climate change was not the most overriding concern of the Americans at the time.

Potential Changes

In the margins of the G8 meeting in Heilingdamm on 6 June 2007, a think tank sponsored by the German government, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) published a report on the consequences of global warming on security and stability worldwide. According to the scientists who wrote the report, "climate change thus poses a challenge to international security, but classic, military-based security policy will be largely unable to make any major contributions to resolving the impending climate crises". Hence the need for investment, not only in measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also in a development policy to allow for effective adaptation measures to be introduced (see separate article).

Today there are more than a billion people who don't have access to drinking water and global warming could make the situation worse because of its impact on rainfall. Africa has been singled out as the area most at risk because of the numerous conflicts already being fought there, but if the Virgin forest in the Amazon is affected, the socio-economic consequences are unimaginable. Densely populated and highly industrialised Chinese coastal areas are also very vulnerable to rising water levels and hurricanes.

Major emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) - including China and India - could be held responsible for global warming by the developing countries. The WGBU feels that the day will come when it will be necessary to draw up a Convention on environmental emigrants.

These are likely to become a menace for the stability of neighbouring countries "for example by importing conflicts between displaced communities or immigrants or by provoking violent reactions about identity which could be further exacerbated by international events" predicts a report by our French counterpart "L'usine a GES ' ("The GHG factory") in its June-July 2007 edition.

In the meantime, the race between the "big powers" to master their strategic resources is on: The Americans are omnipresent in and around the Persian Gulf and the Chinese have reinforced their war fleet which in just ten years has shot up to number three in the world behind the United States and Russia.

Financial stakes

The response of the political world was to focus on the economic stakes identified in the Stern report (see frame). Exactly in line with this report, the Morgan Stanley bank published its own report on 3 October with its own analysis: international trade and fluctuations in capital would be consistently affected by climate change.

According to the report, three factors determine the impact of climate change on a country: the exposure to physical damage, the degree of "carbonisation" of its economy and its ability to react and adapt. Thus, Europeans and the Japanese are less exposed than Saudi Arabia, the Ukraine, Russia and China - now the world leader in greenhouse gas emissions. And in general, emerging economies are more vulnerable. Poland, the United States, South Korea and Australia are very exposed but are better equipped to adapt: and it's there that the most spectacular changes are expected in the future.

Nevertheless, Morgan Stanley predicts a rise in risk premiums and stagflation boosted by an increase in food prices, added to higher water prices and carbon taxes. Drinking water will, in fact, be a key variable in the impact of climate change and could potentially become a much sought after investment along with clean energy. The political dimension, according to the report, "will be at the heart of climate change", since the objectives and the means of achieving them and the technological changes needed to do so, will be determined by political decision makers. But resorting to protectionism under the pretext of saving the environment as has been done in the past is not the answer. Either way, the unpredictability of the climatic events will lead to a greater risk of political error and the volatility of economic cycles.

Agriculture will suffer

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) climate change may have a negative impact on food production in the developing world, whereas industrialised countries will increase production in the short term. The impacts of climate change on forests and on forest dependent people are already evident in increased incidences of forest fires and outbreaks of forest pests and diseases. According to the FAO, climate change adaptation will be needed in a variety of ecosystems, including agro-ecosystems (crops, livestock and grasslands) forests and woodlands, inland waters and coastal and marine ecosystems. Rainfed agriculture in marginal areas in semi-arid and sub-humid regions is mostly at risk. India could lose 125 million tons of its rainfed cereal production - equivalent to 18 percent of its total production.

The Stern report

This report, compiled by the economist Sir Nicholas Stern for the British government and published on 30 October 2006, was the first to attribute figures in economic terms to the threat of climate change. In his opinion, it could be the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen. He also believes that there is still time to mitigate the - difficult if not impossible to reverse - effects of climate change by immediate and concerted action based on four axes: emission permits, technical cooperation, the fight against deforestation and adaptation.

The price of inaction could be 5% of world GDP annually starting now and continuing indefinitely and collateral damage could even bring the cost up to more than 20% of world GDP. In contrast, the price of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be in the region of 1% of world GDP every year.

If emissions are not reduced, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is liable to reach double that of the pre-industrial era by 2035 and lead to an increase in the world temperature of more than 2[degrees]C. In the longer term there is a 50% risk that the increase in temperature will exceed 5[degrees]C, a change equivalent to the change in temperature between the ice age and the present, with major changes to human geography as a result.

If action is taken now to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at between 450 and 550 parts per million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (ppm CO2eq), the worst can be avoided. Current levels stand at 430 ppm CO2eq, increasing at a rate of 2 ppm every year. This means that emissions must be reduced by 25% by 2050, if not more. In the longer term, it will be necessary to reduce emissions by more than 80% of current levels if the concentration is to be stabilised.

Au niveau europeen, on commence tout juste a etudier les consequences indirectes du changement climatique. Le Conseil europeen de juin 2007 (point n[degrees]41 des conclusions) a officiellement demande au Haut Representant Javier Solana et a la Commission europeenne (Benita Ferrero-Waldner, en fait), deja co-auteurs d'une note sur la politique exterieure de l'energie, de reediter leur collaboration pour produire un rapport commun sur les consequences des changements climatiques sur la securite internationale, qui alimentera le Conseil europeen de mars 2008.

Menaces sur la securite mondiale

En attendant, les etudes s'accumulent sur les menaces potentielles des changements climatiques de par le monde.

Selon un rapport du Programme des Nations-Unies pour l'Environnement (PNUE) publie le 22 juin 2007, la guerre au Darfour est en partie imputable aux changements climatiques survenus dans cette region de l'Ouest du Soudan (diminution des precipitations). ' Au-dela des causes sociales et politiques, le conflit du Darfour est le fruit d'une crise ecologique exacerbee, en partie, par le changement climatique ', a confirme Ban Ki-Moon, le secretaire general de l'ONU.

En fevrier 2004, deja, le quotidien britannique The Observer devoilait un rapport du Pentagone qui predisait une veritable apocalypse climatique : temperatures siberiennes en Europe continentale, les plus grandes villes europeennes submergees, famines, secheresses et surtout menaces de guerre entre des pays qui cherchent a securiser leurs approvisionnements en energie, eau et nourriture. On a surtout note a l'epoque que ce rapport etait un pave dans la mare pour le President americain, qui persistait a nier l'existence meme du rechauffement climatique. Les auteurs, Peter Schwartz, consultant pour la CIA et ex-Directeur de la planification chez Shell, et Doug Randall du Global Business Network, avertissaient alors qu'il y a 8.200 ans, de telles conditions climatiques avaient provoque des recoltes insuffisantes, des famines, des epidemies et des migrations massives des populations, ce qui pourrait a nouveau arriver. La publication du rapport n'a pas empeche George W. Bush d'etre reelu : la guerre contre le rechauffement climatique n'etait pas celle qui preoccupait le plus les Americains.

Bouleversements potentiels

Un think tank dependant de l'Etat allemand, le Conseil consultatif allemand sur les changements mondiaux (WBGU), a publie en marge de la reunion du G8 a Heiligendamm le 6 juin 2007, un rapport edifiant sur les consequences du rechauffement climatique sur la securite et la stabilite mondiales. Pour les scientifiques qui ont ecrit ce rapport, ' une politique classique de securite n'est pas en mesure de repondre de maniere adequate aux nouvelles menaces [resultant des changements climatiques] qui pesent sur la stabilite internationale '. D'ou la necessite non seulement d'investir franchement dans les mesures de reduction d'emission de gaz a effet de serre, mais egalement dans la politique de developpement pour permettre a des mesures d'adaptation efficaces de voir le jour (voir article separe).

Plus d'un milliard de personnes n'ont pas acces aujourd'hui a l'eau potable, et la situation pourrait s'aggraver du fait du rechauffement climatique qui affecte les precipitations. L'Afrique est pointee comme la zone a risque, du fait des nombreux conflits qui embrasent deja le continent, mais si la foret vierge d'Amazonie est atteinte, les consequences socio-economiques seront incalculables. Les zones cotieres chinoises, densement peuplees et tres industrialisees, sont egalement tres sensibles a la montee des eaux et aux ouragans.

Les gros pays emetteurs de gaz a effet de serre - y compris la Chine et l'Inde - pourraient etre tenus pour responsables du rechauffement climatique par les pays en developpement. Pour le WBGU, il faudra meme certainement prevoir un jour a une Convention sur les emigres environnementaux.

Ceux-ci deviendront une menace pour la stabilite des pays voisins ' en important par exemple des conflits entre des communautes deplacees ou immigrees ou en provoquant des reactions identitaires violentes potentiellement exacerbees par les evenements internationaux ', predit un rapport du ministere francais de la defense cite par notre confrere francais L'usine a GES dans son edition de juin-juillet 2007.

En attendant, c'est la course entre ' grands ' pour s'assurer la maitrise des ressources strategiques : omnipresence americaine autour du Golfe Persique, renforcement accelere de la flotte de guerre chinoise, passee en dix ans au 3e rang mondial, derriere les Etats-Unis et la Russie.

Des enjeux financiers

Mais ce qui a retourne le monde politique, ce sont les enjeux economiques, identifies par le rapport Stern (voir encadre). Dans la droite ligne de ce rapport, la Banque Morgan Stanley a publie le 3 octobre sa propre analyse : le commerce international et les flux de capitaux devraient etre systematiquement affectes par le changement climatique.

Selon le rapport, trois facteurs determinent l'impact du changement climatique sur un pays : son exposition aux dommages physiques, le degre de ' carbonisation ' de son economie et sa capacite a reagir et s'adapter. Ainsi, les Europeens et les Japonais sont beaucoup moins exposes que l'Arabie Saoudite, l'Ukraine, la Russie et la Chine - maintenant 1er emetteur de gaz a effet de serre au monde. Les economies emergentes sont generalement plus vulnerables. La Pologne, les Etats-Unis, la Coree du sud et l'Australie sont tres exposes, mais ont une grande capacite de s'adapter : c'est la ou les changements les plus spectaculaires sont a attendre a l'avenir.

Quoi qu'il en soit Morgan Stanley predit des primes de risque plus elevees, et une stagflation dopee par des prix alimentaires en hausse, complementes par des frais d'eau plus importants et des taxes sur le carbone. L'eau potable, justement, sera une variable-cle dans l'impact des changements climatiques et pourrait ainsi devenir un theme d'investissement prise, aux cotes de l'energie propre. La dimension politique, selon le rapport, ' sera au c ur du changement climatique ', car les decideurs determineront les objectifs et les moyens pour y parvenir, en prescrivant les changements technologiques necessaires. Mais il ne faudra pas ceder aux sirenes du protectionnisme sous des pretextes environnementaux, comme cela a deja ete le cas par le passe. Quoi qu'il en soit, l'imprevisibilite des evenements climatiques va augmenter le risque d'erreur politique et la volatilite des cycles economiques.

L'agriculture va en patir

Selon l'Organisation Mondiale de l'Alimentation (FAO), le changement climatique nuira vraisemblablement a la production vivriere du monde en developpement, tandis que les pays industrialises pourraient enregistrer des gains de production a court terme. Les impacts du changement climatique sur les forets et sur les populations tributaires des forets sont deja manifestes avec la multiplication des feux de foret et des foyers de ravageurs et de maladies. Selon la FAO, une adaptation au changement climatique sera necessaire dans un grand nombre d'ecosystemes, y compris les agro-ecosystemes (cultures, elevage et herbages), les forets et les terres boisees, les eaux continentales et les ecosystemes cotiers et marins.

L'agriculture pluviale dans les zones marginales des regions semi-arides et subhumides est la plus a risque. L'Inde pourrait perdre 125 millions de tonnes de cereales non irriguees - soit l'equivalent de 18 % de sa production totale.

Le rapport Stern

Ce rapport publie le 30 octobre 2006 et realise par l'economiste Nicholas Stern pour le gouvernement britannique, chiffre pour la premiere fois la menace du changement climatique en termes economiques. Selon lui, c'est la plus grande faillite de l'economie de marche que le monde ait jamais connue. Il conclut qu'il est encore temps d'attenuer les effets du changement climatique - difficilement reversibles, voire irreversibles - en menant une action vigoureuse des maintenant selon 4 axes : permis d'emission, cooperation technique, lutte contre la deforestation et adaptation.

Ne rien faire pourrait couter 5% du PIB mondial chaque annee, des maintenant et indefiniment, et les dommages collateraux pourraient meme porter ce cout a plus de 20% du PIB mondial. Agir pour reduire les emissions de gaz a effet de serre (GES) supposera en revanche une depense de l'ordre de 1% du PIB mondial annuel.

Sans reduction des emissions, la concentration des GES dans l'atmosphere risque d'atteindre des 2035 le double de celle de l'ere preindustrielle, et d'entrainer un rechauffement de la temperature mondiale de plus de 2[degrees]C. A plus longue echeance, il y a 50% de risque que le rechauffement depasse les 5[degrees]C, soit une mutation analogue au changement de temperature intervenu entre l'ere glaciaire et notre ere, avec les changements majeurs qui en resulteraient dans la geographie humaine.

Si l'on agit maintenant pour stabiliser la concentration des GES dans l'atmosphere dans une fourchette comprise entre 450 et 550 parties par million de tonnes equivalent CO2 (ppm eq CO2), on evitera le pire. On en est aujourd'hui a 430 ppm eq CO2, et l'augmentation est de 2 ppm chaque annee. Il faudrait donc avoir reduit les emissions de 25% d'ici 2050, voire plus. A plus longue echeance, la stabilisation exigera de reduire de plus de 80% les emissions par rapport a leur niveau actuel.
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Publication:European Report
Date:Nov 30, 2007

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