November 17, 2010

Northward Bound: Security Review Continues with Canada

Continuing our review of our English-speaking allies’ security reviews, today we feature an excerpt from Canada’s January 2009 report The Future Security Environment 2008-2030, Part 1: Current and Emerging Trends. It’s amazing what a difference a few degrees of latitude makes on the national security implications of climate change. 

From the section entitled “Environmental and Resource Trends: Conclusion and Implications for the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces”: 

“Climate change will exacerbate existing water and food shortages, thus increasing the likelihood of regional instability, and ensuing humanitarian, stabilization, and/or reconstruction crises. Although climate change will not necessarily have a negative impact on Canada – warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons will be welcome in many circles – Canada must be prepared for the changes that climate change will bring to the Arctic. As the polar ice melts, there will be an increase in northern security challenges. As the Northwest Passage is open for longer periods of time, there will be an increase in international traffic through waterways considered to be Canadian. The Canadian government will likely call upon CF assets to help with sovereignty patrols, search and rescue operations, resource protection, and the monitoring of international military activities.” 

Canada is also prioritizing operational energy issues. Unlike the UK report from yesterday, the Canadians are talking about alternative fuels rather than the inevitability of fossil fuel dependence over the next twenty years. 

“The anticipated decline in fossil fuel resources and the simultaneous rise in oil prices will oblige the DND/CF to find alternative power sources for its platforms. As fuel prices rise, the cost of training – let alone the cost of undertaking domestic or expeditionary operations – will become prohibitive and consume an already stretched budget. Research and development into alternative fuels need to become a priority. The development of viable alternatives to fossil fuels will have revolutionary effects and will ease tension as fewer nations compete for dwindling oil supplies. Nevertheless, the reduction of oil dependence will not be without negative consequences. Supplier nations, once wealthy from oil exports, will eventually plummet into economic depression and social instability if oil supplies become irrelevant.” 

Overall, Canada appears acutely aware of the issues we discuss regularly on this blog. Although they haven’t (yet) adopted the term “natural security,” check out this discussion: 

“The competition for resources such as water and food is unlikely to result in state-on state conflict, although internal or inter-regional disputes will possibly erupt among people trying to secure these resources for their survival. The quest for energy, metal, and mineral resources will certainly interest states that want the wealth and prestige that comes from controlling such supplies, as well as states searching to fulfill their markets’ demands. Although the majority of states will satisfy their resource needs through diplomacy and trade agreements, the possibility of aggressive and irrational.” 

Nothing ground-breaking to be found in the report, but it’s always good to understand our neighbor’s concerns and priorities.