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US intelligence agencies issue first-ever climate change warning weeks before Biden attends summit

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Biden has ordered the federal government to undergo an assessment of the risks climate change poses to national and international security

US intelligence agencies are sending a unanimous warning about the growing risk that climate change endangers national security and global stability, a chilling report revealed on Thursday.

All 18 US intelligence agencies signed the 27-page report, which was released in a declassified version by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence after President Joe Biden ordered the government to undergo a climate analysis in January.

It will take just over a week for Biden to fly to Glasgow for the United Nations’ 2021 climate conference.

The intelligence community released its predictions for the coming days after being caught off guard by reports of nuclear missile launches carried out by China over the summer.

Earlier this week, reports emerged that China was secretly testing two nuclear hypersonic missiles orbiting Earth before returning to Earth.

The system would be able to defeat US anti-ballistic missile defense systems based in Alaska and set up to shoot down projectiles coming over the North Pole – the Chinese system could attack the US from the south.

Thursday’s report is the first-ever assessment of its kind and examines how rising CO2 emissions could shift geopolitical power and exacerbate existing conflicts and spark new ones.

In May, Biden issued an executive order requiring the development of a comprehensive government-wide climate risk strategy within 120 days, as well as an annual assessment of climate-related fiscal risks as part of the US budget.

The report was released barely a week before the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (Photo: Biden addresses the UN General Assembly in September)

The report was released barely a week before the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (Photo: Biden addresses the UN General Assembly in September)

“Intensifying the physical effects will exacerbate geopolitical flashpoints, especially after 2030, and key countries and regions will face increasing risks of instability and the need for humanitarian aid,” the message read.

But even before a significant climate catastrophe, shifting blame and arguing over how to implement the goals set out in the Paris climate accord and who should do it will be a source of heightened tensions.

The Paris Agreement’s cooperative breakthrough could be short-lived as countries struggle to cut emissions and blame others for not doing enough.

Countries would then turn against each other to compete for dwindling resources and dominance over new technologies.

The physical effects of climate change would also lead to more mass migration as large areas of the world become uninhabitable.

Climate refugees have already been identified as a growing concern by a number of global entities, including the United Nations.

Every year, hurricanes, seasonal rains and other sudden natural disasters force an average of 21.5 million people from their homes around the world, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said.

Areas such as the Arctic and parts of Asia, where cross-border tensions over water already exist, would become all the more hostile as water insecurity increases.

The report raises concerns that China could strengthen its position as a major producer of minerals needed for renewable energy technology

The report raises concerns that China could strengthen its position as a major producer of minerals needed for renewable energy technology

The report identifies several high-risk areas. One of these is Pakistan, which relies on glacial-fed rivers in India as a major source of water. Land and social disputes, among other things, have already built historically bad relations between the two countries.

In combating the effects of climate change, US intelligence agencies are warning that competition for geoengineering solutions could shift geopolitical power to a position less favorable to the US.

For example, China, the world’s largest CO2 producer, is identified as one of two countries that will “play a critical role in determining the trajectory of temperature rise.”

Both China and India are increasing their already significant carbon emissions, compared to the European Union and the US, where tariffs are falling.

China has previously set a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, but President Xi Jinping has not yet drawn up a concrete roadmap to do so.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to work on phasing out coal at Biden's virtual climate summit with world leaders in April

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to work on phasing out coal at Biden’s virtual climate summit with world leaders in April

At a virtual climate summit that Biden hosted in April, Xi pledged to work on phasing out coal.

But China is also in a “strong position to compete” in the future of innovation in the face of climate change, the report said.

His control over key exports of minerals needed for renewable energy technology and low production standards would likely bolster China’s position as one of the world’s largest economies.

“China can process these at a lower cost, mainly because of lower environmental standards, lower labor costs and cheap electricity,” it said.

The US intelligence community also shares concerns that China will exploit the changing geographic terrain in its quest for dominance.

They mark the Arctic region, which becomes more accessible to new trade routes as temperatures rise and the ice melts, and thus new territory to be claimed.

Military activity is likely to increase as Arctic and non-Arctic states seek to protect their investments, exploit new sea routes and gain strategic advantages over rivals.

China is the world's largest producer of carbon emissions (pictured: A barge sails past the Wangting Power Plant in Wangting, Jiangsu Province, China on Thursday, Sept. 30)

China is the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions (pictured: A barge sails past the Wangting Power Plant in Wangting, Jiangsu Province, China on Thursday, Sept. 30)

In contrast, the US and UK have seen their CO2 emissions plummet (Pictured: Dave Johnson's coal-fired power plant stands out against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyoming in 2018)

In contrast, the US and UK have seen their CO2 emissions plummet (Pictured: Dave Johnson’s coal-fired power plant stands out against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyoming in 2018)

“The increased presence of China and other non-Arctic states will most likely increase concerns among Arctic states as they see a challenge to their respective security and economic interests.”

Other countries that have also already outlined Arctic strategies include the UK, France, Japan, South Korea and India, whose report says Russian officials have repeatedly stated “that non-Arctic countries play no military role in the region.”

Thursday’s report pointed to 11 poorer countries that will be particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and rising temperatures, where humanitarian aid could be hampered by “poor governance, weak infrastructure, endemic corruption and a lack of physical access.”

They are Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Myanmar.

“Intensifying and more frequent heat waves and droughts will lead to water supply volatility and likely put a strain on their electric utility operations, while growing economies and populations will increase demand for electricity to cope with rising temperatures,” the review said.

Countries like Russia and those in the Middle East that rely heavily on fossil fuel exports are likely to continue to resist calls for change because “they fear the economic, political and geopolitical costs of this,” the report predicts. .

His concerns and forecasts were based on the Intel community’s assessment and on “the broad consensus of scientific studies, models and predictions” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the US National Climate Assessment.

It adds: “We are aware of, but do not rely in this estimate on, the scientific perspectives of a small minority on climate change, ranging from those who view it as non-existent to those who view it as an existential threat to humanity in the short term.’

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