Climate Change: One fourth of armed conflicts in ethnically divided countries coincide with climatic problems: Study

Increasing carbon emissions, depleting coal reserves, declining air quality, diseases, risk of natural disasters – do make a formidable case to urgently tackle climate change. But a new study takes it to a different level and finds that climate change could really be a catalyst for armed conflict in ethnically fragmented countries and societies.

A research conducted by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found almost one fourth of armed conflicts in ethnically divided countries happen at the same time as climatic problems. The researchers studied armed conflicts and climate-related natural disasters between 1980 and 2010 using event coincidence analysis.

Globally, the study found a coincidence rate of 9 percent regarding armed conflict outbreak and disaster occurrence such as heat waves or droughts. The study, however, found 23 per cent of conflict outbreaks in ethnically highly fractionalised countries robustly coincide with climatic calamities.

“There is little evidence that climaterelated disasters act as direct triggers of armed conflicts, but the disruptive nature of these events seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way,” Dr Carl Schleussner, who led the research, told ET.

This has important implications for future security policies as several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions, including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia, are both exceptionally vulnerable to anthropogenic climate change and characterized by deep ethnic divides. The study cites examples from Iraq, Syria and Somalia to underline such climatological events may have already contributed to armed-conflict outbreaks or sustained conflicts in these countries.

“The robust finding of armed-conflict outbreak risk enhancement for climatological events globally points towards increased risks due to a projected drying trend in already drought-prone regions such as Northern Africa and the Levant… Further…

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