Climate Change In Myanmar: Impacts And Adaptation

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Calhoun: The NPS Institutional ArchiveDSpace RepositoryTheses and Dissertations1. Thesis and Dissertation Collection, all items2014-12Climate change in Myanmar: impacts and adaptationSlagle, John T.Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School from NPS Archive: Calhoun

NAVALPOSTGRADUATESCHOOLMONTEREY, CALIFORNIATHESISCLIMATE CHANGE IN MYANMAR: IMPACTS ANDADAPTATIONbyJohn T. SlagleDecember 2014Thesis Advisor:Second Reader:Michael S. MalleyTristan J. MabryApproved for public release; distribution is unlimited


REPORT DOCUMENTATION PAGEForm Approved OMB No. 0704-0188Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instruction,searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Sendcomments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, toWashington headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington, VA22202-4302, and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (0704-0188) Washington DC 20503.1. AGENCY USE ONLY (Leave blank)2. REPORT DATEDecember 20143. REPORT TYPE AND DATES COVEREDMaster’s Thesis5. FUNDING NUMBERS4. TITLE AND SUBTITLECLIMATE CHANGE IN MYANMAR: IMPACTS AND ADAPTATION6. AUTHOR(S) John T. Slagle7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES)Naval Postgraduate SchoolMonterey, CA 93943-50009. SPONSORING /MONITORING AGENCY NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES)N/A8. PERFORMING ORGANIZATIONREPORT NUMBER10. SPONSORING/MONITORINGAGENCY REPORT NUMBER11. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES The views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not reflect the official policyor position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government. IRB protocol number N/A .12a. DISTRIBUTION / AVAILABILITY STATEMENTApproved for public release; distribution is unlimited13. ABSTRACT (maximum 200 words)12b. DISTRIBUTION CODEAMyanmar is a Least Developed Nation, according to the UN, and therefore is highly vulnerable to the negative effectsof a changing climate. To assess the relationship between Myanmar and climate change, this thesis analyzesprojected impacts on the nation and its people, the current state of adaptation, and how Myanmar’s government hasprepared. Projected impacts are viewed through the lens of the most recent IPCC reports and climate models, anddiscussed in relation to vulnerable areas in Burmese society and governance. This thesis concludes that Myanmar’senvironment, people and society are at a significant risk; higher temperatures, altered precipitation rates, and highersea levels will lead to reduced agriculture output, the spread of disease, and loss of habitable land. Though recentgovernmental action has laid the framework for suitable adaptation measures, slow progress in past decades has leftMyanmar highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Myanmar’s next election is scheduled for2015, and the emerging leaders have the opportunity to make significant progress in climate change adaptation.Cooperation between Myanmar’s new leaders and the international community could accelerate the nation’sadaptation efforts and result in significant progress on climate change preparedness projects.14. SUBJECT TERMSMyanmar, Burma, climate change, climate adaptation, climate change mitigation, International Panelon Climate Change, State Law and Order Restoration Council, State Peace and Development Council,Southeast Asia15. NUMBER OFPAGES9716. PRICE CODE17. SECURITYCLASSIFICATION OFREPORTUnclassified20. LIMITATION OFABSTRACT18. SECURITYCLASSIFICATION OF THISPAGEUnclassifiedNSN 7540-01-280-5500Prescribed by ANSI Std. 239-1819. SECURITYCLASSIFICATION OFABSTRACTUnclassifiedUUStandard Form 298 (Rev. 2-89)i


Approved for public release; distribution is unlimitedCLIMATE CHANGE IN MYANMAR: IMPACTS AND ADAPTATIONJohn T. SlagleLieutenant Commander, United States NavyB.A., Elon University, 2002Submitted in partial fulfillment of therequirements for the degree ofMASTER OF ARTS IN SECURITY STUDIES(FAR EAST, SOUTHEAST ASIA, AND THE PACIFIC)from theNAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOLDecember 2014Author:John T. SlagleApproved by:Michael S. MalleyThesis AdvisorTristan J. MabrySecond ReaderMohammed HafezChair, Department of National Security Affairsiii


ABSTRACTMyanmar is a Least Developed Nation, according to the UN, and therefore is highlyvulnerable to the negative effects of a changing climate. To assess the relationshipbetween Myanmar and climate change, this thesis analyzes projected impacts on thenation and its people, the current state of adaptation, and how Myanmar’s governmenthas prepared. Projected impacts are viewed through the lens of the most recent IPCCreports and climate models, and discussed in relation to vulnerable areas in Burmesesociety and governance. This thesis concludes that Myanmar’s environment, people andsociety are at a significant risk; higher temperatures, altered precipitation rates, andhigher sea levels will lead to reduced agriculture output, the spread of disease, and loss ofhabitable land. Though recent governmental action has laid the framework for suitableadaptation measures, slow progress in past decades has left Myanmar highly vulnerableto the negative impacts of climate change. Myanmar’s next election is scheduled for2015, and the emerging leaders have the opportunity to make significant progress inclimate change adaptation.Cooperation between Myanmar’s new leaders and theinternational community could accelerate the nation’s adaptation efforts and result insignificant progress on climate change preparedness projects.v




LIST OF FIGURESFigure 1.Figure 2.Figure 3.Figure 4.Figure 5.Figure 6.Figure 7.Map of Myanmar .4Temperature Trends in Myanmar Compared to the 1961–1990 Average .24Observed Temperature Changes in Myanmar .25IPCC Projections for Future Temperature and Sea Level Changes .30Myanmar’s Rice Activity by Year .39Myanmar’s NAPA: First Priority Sectors and Projects .67GHG Emissions and Removals in Myanmar: 2000 .72ix


LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONSADBAsian Development BankASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian NationsBEWGBurma Environmental Working GroupCIACentral Intelligence AgencyCO2carbon dioxideCO2ecarbon dioxide equivalentEIAenvironmental impact assessmentENSOEl Nino southern oscillationEPAEnvironmental Protection AgencyGCMgeneral circulation modelGHGgreenhouse gasGMSgreater Mekong subregionINCinitial national communicationIPCCInternational Panel on Climate ChangeLDCleast developed countryLDCFleast developed country fundMOECAFMinistry of Environmental Conservation and ForestryMOFAMinistry of Foreign AffairsNAPANational Adaptation Program of ActionNCEANational Commission for Environmental AffairsNECCNational Environmental Conservation CommitteeNSDSNational Sustainable Development StrategyPRECISproviding regional climates for impact studiesSLORCState Law and Order Restoration CouncilSPDCState Peace and Development CouncilUNUnited NationsUNCBDUnited Nations Convention on Biological DiversityUNCCDUnited Nations Convention to Combat DesertificationUNDPUnited Nations Development ProgramUNEPUnited Nations Environment Programxi

UNFCCCUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate ChangeWMOWorld Meteorological Organizationxii

I.A.INTRODUCTIONMAJOR RESEARCH QUESTIONOn May 1, 2008, Tropical Cyclone Nargis made an eastward turn in its path upthe Bay of Bengal, devastating an unprepared Myanmar the following day. The categoryfour cyclone led to the deaths of over 138,000 people and destroyed lands alongMyanmar’s coastline and Irrawaddy delta, making it among the 10 most destructivecyclones in recorded history. Coastal lands were flooded, and tidal surges inundated lowlying areas including the nation’s most populous city, Yangon.1The severe effects of the storm were compounded by the inept reaction fromMyanmar’s government at the time, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).This secretive military regime left international warnings unheeded, prevented theaccurate counting of civilian deaths, and prevented aid workers from entering the countryin the wake of the powerful storm. Already under pressure from human rights advocatesand the target of international sanctions, the SPDC was unwilling to lose furthercredibility by displaying its inability to protect its citizens to the world community. Thisstrategy backfired, however, and only led to increased criticism of an ineffectualgovernment that would be out of power less than three years later.2The events surrounding Cyclone Nargis give rise to three primary questions. First,how vulnerable is the nation of Myanmar to the effects of climate change, effects thatinclude an increase in intensity of storms such as Nargis? Second, what does the degreeof vulnerability mean to the Burmese people? And third, as a late developing country thathas only recently emerged from decades of secretive military rule under regimes such asthe SPDC, what laws and adaptation methods are in place, if any, to prepare the nation1 Chew-Hung Chang, “Preparedness and storm hazards in a global warming world: lessons fromSoutheast Asia,” Natural Hazards 56 (March 2011): 677, doi: 10.1007/s11069-010-9581-y; InternationalPanel on Climate Change [IPCC], Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, ed. T.F. Stocker, D.Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley(Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 1273.2 “Cyclone Nargis,” Burma Center Prague, accessed May 6, 2014, ne-nargis/.1

for the effects of a changing climate? Stated succinctly—how does climate changethreaten security in Myanmar?B.IMPORTANCEAccording to Kreft and Eckstein, “People all over the world have to face thereality of climate variability More than 530,000 people died as a direct result of almost15,000 extreme weather events, and losses of more than USD 2.5 trillion (in purchasingpower parity) occurred from 1993 to 2012 globally.”3 Furthermore, over 138,000 of those530,000 lives lost, as previously mentioned, were the result of Cyclone Nargis inMyanmar. Because of this catastrophe, “Myanmar [along with Honduras and Haiti] hasbeen identified as one of the most affected countries in this 20-year period [1993–2012].”4 The security of the Burmese population is clearly affected in a negative way byclimate anomalies.Though individual weather events cannot be attributed to climate change with anydegree of certainty, the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community states that,allowing for regional variance, the general trend is toward an increase in the number andintensity of extreme weather events. Intensified cyclones, sea level rise, temperatureincreases, and rainfall variability are primary effects that are expected in the comingdecades, with secondary effects that include altered agricultural growing seasons,decreases in sea and river fishery stock, and forced human migration.5The disruptive nature of a changing climate impacts all of a nation’s citizens.These impacts are compounded in a country such as Myanmar that has a poor, agrarian,and ethnically and religiously heterogeneous population that also has a history ofdomestic conflict. As an extremely late developing nation, these intensified negativeimpacts have the potential to exacerbate tensions among ethnic and religious groups and3 Sonke Kreft and David Eckstein, “Global Climate Risk Index 2014,” Germanwatch, November 2013, Ibid.5 IPCC, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, 20–26.2

to leave behind the most vulnerable sectors of the population such as the extremely poor,sick, young, and elderly.C.PROBLEMS AND HYPOTHESESMyanmar’s security in the face of climate change depends on three specificfactors. First is the vulnerability of the nation to primary effects to the naturalenvironment. This includes changes to the sea level, changes in temperature norms, andto precipitation rates and predictability. The resulting impact on human activity is thesecond factor. Climatic changes will affect agriculture production, habitability of lowlying and coastal areas, the availability of potable water, and the prevalence and spread ofvector-borne disease. The third factor affecting Myanmar’s security in a changing climateis action by the government and society. Political and economic adaptation and theenactment of climate-resistant policies are essential in promoting security as the climatechanges. These three specific factors will be discussed below.Primary effects of climate change negatively affect the natural environment. Inthe certain areas of Myanmar, this means coastal inundation and flooding of river anddelta regions due to rising sea levels and extreme precipitation events (see Figure 1). Inthe central dry area and hilly areas, this means longer droughts and higher incidents ofwildfires from the combination of higher temperatures and lower rainfall. These events,along with rising ocean acidification and other changes to the natural environment, canlead to loss of biodiversity as plant and animal life struggle to adjust to climaticalterations. Regional changes are likely to have major impacts on Myanmar as well, aschanges to the level, temperature, and pH balance of the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengalreach Myanmar’s vast coastline, and as shrinking mountain glaciers in the Himalayasaffect water supplies of the Irrawaddy and other rivers that support the naturalenvironment.3

Figure 1.Map of Myanmar66 “Union of Myanmar Agricultural Atlas,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,accessed December 5, 2014, 13 political map.pdf.4

The security of the Burmese people will be affected by complications relateddirectly to the primary effects listed above. As an overwhelmingly agrarian nation, thestability and predictability of rice growing seasons are essential for people’s livelihoodson an individual scale, and for economic growth and development on a national scale.Altered growing seasons due to changes in rainfall patterns, intensified variations in wetand dry seasons, and increased overall temperatures have the ability to threatenagricultural production. Forced human migration can also threaten the nation’s stability.With a large percentage of citizens living in coastal regions and low lying river deltas,coastal inundation from a rising sea level, storms, and tidal surges can lead to the loss ofhomes and even entire villages. One such low lying coastal area is Rakhine State, hometo a large Muslim population and an area of high rates of ethnic-religious violence.Forced migration from Rakhine State has the potential to ignite further violence as theminority Muslims are pushed east into majority Buddhist areas, or west into Bangladesh,a country that is also extremely vulnerable to climate-security issues and that haspreexisting disputes with Myanmar regarding illegal human transit. Finally, health issuesbrought on by climate change can negatively impact

Myanmar highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Myanmar’s next election is scheduled for 2015, and the emerging leaders have the opportunity to make significant progress in climate change adaptation. Cooperation between Myanmar’s new leaders and the international community could accelerate the nation’s

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