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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09PHNOMPENH202
2009-03-27 05:55:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Phnom Penh
Cable title:  

ARF WORKSHOP RAISES DEBATE ON WHETHER CLIMATE CHANGE IS A

Tags:   SENV  EAGR  ARF  ASEAN  ENRG  EAID  EIND  CB 
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VZCZCXRO1488
RR RUEHAST RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHPF #0202/01 0860555
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270555Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0548
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000202 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, AND OES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR ARF ASEAN ENRG EAID EIND CB
SUBJECT: ARF WORKSHOP RAISES DEBATE ON WHETHER CLIMATE CHANGE IS A
SECURITY OR DEVELOPMENT ISSUE

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED



1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The traditional climate change debate between
developed and developing countries emerged during an ASEAN Regional
Forum (ARF) seminar on "International Security Implications of
Climate-Related Events and Trends", hosted by the European Union
(EU) and Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) in Phnom Penh on March
20 (participant list emailed to EAP/RSP). The EU and Japanese
delegations presented findings from their studies on the security
implications of climate change, which largely echoed the findings in
a June 2008 U.S. National Intelligence Assessment on the topic.
Developing country representatives stressed that many of the
security concerns highlighted in the studies were development issues
and called for developed nations to provide more assistance to meet
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) and Environment Programme (UNEP) representatives
stressed that climate change could also drive positive change as a
"peace-multiplier", rather than a threat-multiplier. The EU
delegation, which pushed to hold the seminar, was pleased with the
outcome and called for further ARF focus on climate change.
However, the nature of the discussion, which drifted into the
development discussions typically heard at United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings, seemed to fall
outside of the ARF's traditional mandate of promoting dialogue on
political-security issues. END SUMMARY.

DEVELOPED COUNTRIES' FINDINGS LARGELY CONSISTENT


--------------------------

---



2. (SBU) EU and Japanese studies on the security implications of
climate change echoed findings in the June 2008 U.S. "National
Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of
Global Climate Change to 2030". All studies found that: 1) climate
change factors could exacerbate existing trends and tensions, such
as poverty, environmental degradation, and weak political
institutions; 2) intra- and inter-state conflict could arise due to
scarcity of and access to resources such as land and fresh water; 3)
coastal areas risk costly infrastructure damage or outright loss due
to rising sea levels and extreme weather events; 4) human migration
could intensify due to loss of land, shrinking income opportunities,
and natural disasters; and 5) multilateral systems could break down
as countries step up protection of their borders and resources.

DEVELOPING NATIONS: CLIMATE CHANGE MORE SERIOUS FOR US


--------------------------



--------------------------





3. (SBU) During the meeting's first session, developing country
delegations discussed the potential impacts of climate change on

their economies and infrastructures. The delegate from Vietnam
explained that droughts in the dry season and flooding in the rainy
season had become more frequent and more intense. Sea levels on
Vietnam's coasts had risen by about 20 cm over the past 50 years.
The Vietnamese study found that for every one degree Celsius
temperature rise, maize yields would reduce by 5-20%, and rice
yields would drop by 10%. The Malaysian, Chinese and Cambodian
delegations described similar trends and threats in their reports.




4. (SBU) The Malaysian delegate called for stricter greenhouse gas
mitigation efforts, criticizing EU proposals for a two-degree
Celsius cap on temperature rises. A two-degree increase in
temperature would be acceptable for Europe, he stressed, but would
be a disaster for developing nations and island nations, such as the
Maldives. The Chinese delegation called on developed countries, as
those responsible for historic greenhouse gas emissions, to provide
more support for adaptation activities in developing countries. Dr.
Tin Ponlok of the Cambodian National Climate Change Office
emphasized the need for clean technology transfer mechanisms and
clearer adaptation funding mechanisms. He said that existing funds
available for adaption, such as the Least Developed Country and
Special Climate Change Funds, were either too small or burdened with
complex rules for eligibility and financing.

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT: SECURITY OR DEVELOPMENT ISSUE?


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (SBU) Dinesh Patnaik, Joint Secretary from the Indian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and the most vocal of the developing country
delegations, questioned the utility of examining climate change in a
security context. He feared that looking at climate change through
a "security lens" would draw attention and resources away from
programs that would actually mitigate impacts of climate change. He
argued that security threats highlighted by the EU and Japan (and
the U.S.) were development issues. Poverty, mass human migration
and conflict over resources may be intensified by climate change, he
contended, but they already occurred today and had been seen in the
developing world throughout history. He said that the key to
mitigating perceived security threats was to minimize the inherent

PHNOM PENH 00000202 002 OF 002


tensions caused by the development divide, such as poverty and lack
of economic opportunities, which lead to economic migration and
conflict.



6. (SBU) The EU delegation countered that climate change could and
should be considered a security issue, albeit a "non-traditional"
security issue versus a "hard" security issue. UNDP and UNEP
representatives noted that climate change could have a positive
effect on international security as a "peace-multiplier", a common
threat against which nations must unite and cooperate to address.
Alain Lambert, Senior Policy Officer for the UNDP's Bureau for
Crisis Prevention and Recovery, argued that if developed nations
shifted some of their spending from military and other
security-related budgets, they could redirect resources into
"no-regret" investments that would benefit recipients even if
climate change disasters never happen.

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (SBU) The ARF Seminar highlighted the different vantages from
which developing and industrialized countries view the potential
impacts of climate change. The EU delegation was clearly in the
driver's seat for this event and was pleased with the outcome. At
one point an EU representative acknowledged that the ARF seminar was
part of the EU's consultative process to gather feedback for its
climate change roadmap. However, because the conversation
frequently redirected to development assistance, the tone and
content of the meeting ended up repeating many of arguments
previously made in the UNFCCC process. Although the EU will push
for more climate change discussions in future ARF meetings, these
discussions may continue to duplicate existing global climate change
negotiations and draw the ARF's focus from its traditional
political-security agenda.


RODLEY