South Asia’s cruel heatwave in recent weeks has seen land temperatures reach 122 F (49 C) and air temperatures as high as 143 F (62 C) in India and Pakistan. A brutal April was preceded by a searing March, both setting records on the subcontinent for those months. The peak summer period in the region is in May and early June, so the early arrival of extreme temperatures was another unusual characteristic of this heatwave.
Climate change is not just an environmental issue in South Asia; it is also a major security concern. When overlaid with pre-existing domestic distress and inter-state rivalries that roil the region, it could well act as a tipping point that triggers or magnifies violent conflict. But appropriate policy responses, including institution-building, data-sharing and embracing a rapid low-carbon pathway, provide a way forward.
These are some of the conclusions we reached in a recent report published by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security titled “Climate Security and the Strategic Energy Pathway in South Asia.” The report examines the impact of climate change in three areas – the India-Pakistan rivalry, the China-India rivalry and within domestic security arenas in South Asia.