Nitin Pai spoke at a panel discussion on climate change and national security at the TERI-KAS Resource Dialogue in New Delhi from 20th-22nd February 2020.
The discussion was chaired by Ajai Shukla (Senior Journalist and Retired Colonel, Indian Army). The other panelists included:
- M. Mayilvaganan, Associate Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies
- Nihar R Nayak, Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
- Oliver Nelson Gonsalves, Associate Fellow, National Maritime Foundation
- Sameer Patil, Fellow, Gateway House
Nitin underscored the need for a risk management approach when it comes to climate change and defence establishments. Detailed comments quoted below:
“Why should the Armed forces consider paying attention to climate change? Why it is a security issue? If the world ends tomorrow and all the people die at the same time, then there is no issue. But if the world will end gradually and people die due to different impacts of climate change at different points of time, politics kicks in. Moreover, it is better to manage risks than to predict events.
Armed forced need to have some expertise in climate science and disaster management. Both the armed and internal security forces should have the requisite know-how. A pre-planning to manage extreme weather events is required. Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) in domestic space needs to be strengthened to manage climate risks better. Humanitarian operations need to be done across various borders. The Rohingyas crisis, for example, was handled in a shameful manner as a genocide was in progress, probably activated by climate change and resource scarcity and responses to it were so inadequate. Cooperative operations are required to combat climate change issues concerning traditional security; this can only be done by collaborating with our allies as well as adversaries.
A climate science department should be included in the National Defence University which is supposed to come up soon. Intelligence capabilities need to be updated keeping in mind the changed climate scenarios. Having climate intelligence as a part of military intelligence is required. Civil–military cooperation in terms of conflict resolution is very much required. Climate change does not require pure military operations; we need to also consider the civilian angle.”
Nitin has also published a framework for managing risks posed by climate change which can be found here.