Climate change has significant impact on global security
CGTN America Digital

Climate change around the world has and will continue to cause growing international instability, multiple U.S. government departments recently reported.

According to the U.S. National Intelligence Council, 11 countries are most vulnerable to climate change impacts: Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nicaragua, and Pakistan.

These countries are seeing increasing heat waves and droughts, disruption to water supplies, and strains on their utility systems — and they lack the resources and capacity to deal with such impacts, the report found.

Such climate change pressures combined with other global flash points can lead to increased political, economic and social strife, the U.S. Department of Defense also reported.


The impacts of climate change is already slowing the economic development of Central Africa. Environmental disasters have exacerbated existing challenges such as access to education, electricity, health and sanitation, the Intelligence Council report said.

Increasing wildfires, floods, and storms have also caused significant property damage and losses of income, a panel of U.S. federal and state regulators reported.

For example, as of October 2021, the U.S. has seen 18 climate-related disaster events costing more than $1 billion each, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Extreme weather due to climate change has led to great pressure on the food supply around the world, which can lead to unrest and battles over water and other resources, a Pentagon report found.

For example, consecutive droughts and excessive rains have destroyed maize and bean crops in Central America, impacting food security and exports, the Intelligence Council report said.

More frequent droughts, heatwaves and growing desertification is also predicted in Iran, which will lower food production and increase import costs, the Council report writes.

In the Pacific Islands, 20 percent of the landmass is expected to see flooding due to higher sea levels that can damage infrastructure and harm food and water resources due to saltwater contamination, a 2018 NOAA and USGS study also found.

Climate change will also speed up the loss of biodiversity faster than ever before, leading to more plant and animal extinctions and harming ecosystems that people rely on for food and medicine, the government reports found.

More frequent cyclones have also led to water contamination and the growing transmission of disease. Some researchers believe dengue fever will increase in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, and Pakistan. Increased rain can also increase outbreaks of mosquito-borne and diarrheal diseases in South Asia and Central America, the Intelligence Council report said.


Growing economic instability due to climate change is a leading push for many to migrate or be forcibly displaced.

Nearly 3 percent of the populations of Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa are projected to move within their countries’ borders by 2050 due to climate change impacts. That’s more than 143 million people, the Intelligence Council report said.

As many displaced climate migrants head to cities, this can lead to uncontrolled urbanization, unemployment, and the increasing settlement of slums, the report writes.

There is also growing cross-border movement of climate refugees, especially in situations where other conflicts are intertwined with climate change impacts, the White House reported.


As climate refugees seek to reach more stable destinations, countries that border destination countries will see instability as the numbers of migrants grow on their borders and political battles ensue, the White House report said.

Examples can already be seen at the borders of Greece/Turkey, UK/France, Spain/Morocco, Italy/Libya, Syria/Jordan/Lebanon, and the United States/Mexico, the White House report writes.

There will also be a rise in activity by non-state actors such as extremist groups and criminal organizations that step in where governments have been unable to address the impacts of climate change. 

Many of these groups are involved in human trafficking, illegal mining, and resource extraction and take advantage of climate migrants for economic exploitation or recruitment. Increased activity by these groups can also lead to increased state corruption and contribute to the erosion of state stability, the White House report said.

The increasing melting of Arctic ice has also led to more shipping channels in the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and its projected that this could lead to increased competition for commercial sea lanes among nations such as Russia, China, Canada and the U.S.

Global tensions are also expected to grow as nations discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Such discord could surface as world nations soon meet for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP 26 from Oct. 31-Nov. 12.

Check out The China Report, our new weekly newsletter. Subscribe here!

Search Trends