Climate Change and Conflict

  • Citation: Nordås R., Gleditsch N.P. (2015) “Climate Change and Conflict”. In: Hartard S., Liebert W. (eds) Competition and Conflicts on Resource Use. Natural Resource Management and Policy, vol 46. Springer, Cham.
    • Topics:
    • Global Development
    • Keywords:
    • climate change
    • conflict
    • Security Council
    • armed conflict
    • violent conflict

While it has been forcefully argued that the world is generally becoming more peaceful (e.g. Gleditsch 2008; Pinker 2011), the debate on climate change raises the specter of a new source of instability and conflict. In this field, the policy debate has been running well ahead of its academic foundation—and sometimes even contrary to the best evidence. A small but important literature of systematic research on possible security implications of climate change is now emerging. To date, however, the studies are inconclusive, often finding no or low predicted effect of climate change. The scenarios summarized by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001, 2007, and 2014 are much less certain in terms of the social implications of climate change than in their conclusions about the physical implications. In addition, the few statements on the security implications found in these IPCC reports are largely based on sources of uncertain academic credit and relevance.

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