Since the Uri army base attack on 18 September 2016, in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed (called the “deadliest attack on the security forces in Kashmir in two decades”), relations between India and Pakistan have been at an all-time low. While India has provided ample evidence to establish the origin of the attack as Pakistan, the latter continues to be in denial. India has been on a diplomatic and political offensive ever since – attempting to isolate Pakistan globally, carrying out surgical strikes against “launch pads” for terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC) and re-examining some of the existing bilateral treaties, one of them being the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
In a totally different but connected case, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been forced to keep on hold a big project meant to reduce the risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in northern Pakistan, which also includes disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan – mainly due to objections raised by India.
Last month, our author Dr Vigya Sharma visited Colombo to speak at the 5th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum. In her report, she highlights some takeaways from the conference to which more than 1,000 representatives from across science, policy, national to local governments, multilateral donor agencies and various arms of the United Nations came together.
Chinese scientists call for countries to work together to reduce emissions of black carbon which is causing glaciers to retreat on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, reports Liu Qin.
On 9 August 2016, India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Anil Madhav Dave, informed the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament) that, according to an Oxford University study, approximately 136,000 climate change-related deaths are projected in India. This is primarily due to decreased food production. He went on to quote figures from a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, published in 2014, which pins the principle causes of death between 2030 and 2050 on malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
A paper published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tests the hypothesis that climate related natural disasters may be part of the cause of conflict in countries with high ethnic fractionalization.
With the failure of July 14-15 talks held between India and Pakistan to settle concerns raised by the latter over the former’s dam projects (Kishenganga and Ratle) over the Western rivers (Jhelum’s tributary and Chenab respectively) of the Indus Basin (allocated to the latter under the Indus Waters Treaty), Pakistan has now decided to take the matter to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA), based in the Hague. While the political and legal battles over the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) continue to create headlines in the region, and across the world, there is another time bomb ticking beneath the surface.
The eye catching headlines are familiar. “Water Wars” are imminent or already underway in the latest drought or dam-building hotspot. Such “wars” often extend to farmers battling over irrigation diversions, but at times countries are the players. Senior leaders are often quoted suggesting transboundary water theft constitutes a casus belli. Security officials are obliged to investigate.
India is all set to embark on exploration and other developmental activities pertaining to polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved the signing of a contract between the Minister of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), that formalises India’s exclusive rights for exploration in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean for 15 years. India is not the only country that is actively tapping into the resources of the region, or is attempting to do so. China, South Korea and Germany have also been granted permission to prospect for polymetallic nodules and sulphides, increasing the potential for competition in the region.