No state will replace US militarily, says National Intelligence Council, but climate change will create great instability
A US intelligence portrait of the world in 2030 predicts that China will be the largest economic power, that climate change will create instability by contributing to water and food shortages, and that there will be a “tectonic shift” with the rise of a global middle class.
The National Intelligence Council’s five-yearly Global Trends Report says the world is “at a critical juncture in human history”. It says US power will be greatly diminished but no other individual state will rise to replace it. “There will not be any hegemonic power. Power will shift to networks and coalitions in a multipolar world,” the report says.
It draws a distinction between what it calls “megatrends” – things that are highly likely to occur – and “game-changers”, which are far less certain.
Among the megatrends is growing prosperity across the globe.
“The growth of the global middle class constitutes a tectonic shift: for the first time a majority of the world’s population will not be impoverished, and the middle classes will be the most important social and economics sector in the vast majority of countries,” it says.
With spreading prosperity will come shifts in influence and power. “The diffusion of power among countries will have a dramatic impact by 2030. Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending, and technological investment. China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030,” the report says.
The megatrends also point to increased instability because of increasing demand for insufficient supplies of water, food and energy compounded by climate change.
“Demand for food, water, and energy will grow by approximately 35, 40, and 50% respectively owing to an increase in the global population and the consumption patterns of an expanding middle class. Climate change will worsen the outlook for the availability of these critical resources,” the report says.
The report says that a world of scarcities is not inevitable but “policymakers and their private-sector partners will need to be proactive to avoid such a future”. It says any solution will require more able countries to help more vulnerable states.