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Climate Change drives Conflict

Climate change does not directly cause conflict. It creates instability which can lead to violence, especially in communities with poor resources. It amplifies ineqalities which already exist.

Watch David Attenborough's warning to the Security Council.

Climate change is expected -
  • to increase rainfall in temperate regions, but increase drought in drier zones.
  • to benefit agricultural production in higher latitudes,e.g. Russia, Canada and Northern Europe, but reduce production in developing regions.
  • to increase coastal erosion, giving rise to emigration especially from small islands and from coastal population centres.
  • to increase extreme weather events, where the poorest communities are the most vulnerable.

The Horn of Africa

Drought, famine, crop failure and the spread of desert, due to climate change, have fanned conflict between herders and farmers. Migration across national boundaries produces unrest. The jihadist group Al-Shabaab has caused additional hardship by cutting water supplies to cities from which it has been expelled.

West Africa

Lake Chad , close to the borders of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, shrank rapidly between 1960 and 2010, due to climate change. As a consequence of drought and desertification, desperate young men have been attracted to the jihadist Boko Haram, for food and the prospect of pillage.

The Middle East

The River Jordan

Major rivers, notably the Nile and the Euphrates, cross national boundaries. Global warming will add to existing disputes between upstream and downstream nations.

It has been reported that over half of the world's major aquifers are now past their sustainability tipping points.

The river Jordan provides water to Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. Israel has been accused of "stealing" water, especially from the occupied West Bank. Gaza is starved of fresh water due to the Israeli blockade. This adds to existing political tensions. Can promising new techniques - desalinating sea-water by reverse osmosis - help to mitigate conflicts over water?

Some scientists predict that by 2100, global warming may cause sea levels to rise by at least 0.2 metres and possibly by as much as 2.5 metres. A rise of just half a metre might be enough to inundate the Egyptian cities of Port Said and Alexandria. An increase of a metre would cover a quarter of the Nile River Delta, the country's breadbasket. This could uproot six million Egyptians, in addition to millions more migrating from parts of the Sahel.

The civil war in Syria was precipitated by a catastrophic drought causing agricultural failure and forcing families to flee from the countryside into urban areas. Rising food prices brought the Arab Spring into Syria; Bashar Al-Assad responded with violence.

Drought, leading to starvation and cholera, helped to precipitate the Houthi rebellion in Yemen. The situation has since been worsened by bombing and blockade.

North Africa


Low rainfall in North Africa between 2007 and 2010 contributed to the emergence of Arab Spring which by 2017 had overthrown oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, and later spread to Syria.

The Great Green Wall is a symbol of hope.

South Asia

Coastal cities, especially those close to the estuaries of large rivers, are liable to flooding as sea levels rise. Sea water will threaten agriculture and the provision of fresh water.

Population movement will bring border clashes.

The charity Practical Action has developed floating gardens and small-scale fish farms to address these problems, especially in Bangladesh.

Central Asia

Farming in Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan relies on melting glaciers for irrigation and for hydroelectricity.

Glacier loss will exacerbate border disputes in this region.

Europe and North America

The chief impact of climate change on prosperous nations has been an increase in climate-driven immigration from North Africa and the Middle East.

Military spending far exceeds climate spending. Note the danger of over-fishing. Will Covid-19 change our priorities?

Classical economic theory cannot cope with the climate emerrgency.

Racists and nationalist populists have attempted to blame immigrants for a shortage of jobs, schools, housing, etc.

South America

Clearing of Amazon rainforests, for mining and livestock, threatens indigenous livelihoods and intensifies global warming.

The Arctic Ocean

As Arctic sea-ice melts, it is feared that the US, Canada, Russia and China will come into conflict over the sea lanes that are opening up, and over underwater minerals.

Climate Change and Nuclear Installations

Dungeness B power station

Because nuclear power stations need large volumes of cooling water, they are mostly built on coastal sites. This will make them especially vulnerable to flooding as global warming brings rising sea levels.
Foe example a Kent County Council impact assessment warns that a combination of coastal flooding and high winds might cause radiation contamination from Dungeness nuclear power station to spread across South East England.

Extinction Rebellion

Hastings against War welcomes and celebrates Extinction Rebellion Hastings and St Leonards.

We share their hopes and their concerns.

See Environmental Costs of Militarism