Climate is unquestionably linked to armed conflict,” said Halvard Buhaug, a professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, at a recent Wilson Center event marking the end of the three-year Climate Anomalies and Violent Environments (CAVE) research project. But, he stresses that under a changing climate, exactly how and through what pathways is still a subject of much debate in the academic community.
At the same time, practitioners working in fragile states need concrete guidance in order to prevent conflict and improve adaptation. “Conflict is an important cause of vulnerability to climatic changes,” said Buhaug. “Conflict mitigation…is probably the most important thing we can do to reduce environmental vulnerability.”
Climate Linked to Conflict Through Multiple Pathways
Climatic changes can increase the risk of conflict under certain conditions and through certain causal pathways, said Buhaug, citing some common drivers: a history of violence, low levels of development, poor governance, and inequality. In addition, the evidence shows that “climatic changes can affect the dynamics of conflict,” including the conflict’s duration, severity, and likelihood of ending quickly. But there is much less consensus that such changes could cause an outbreak of armed conflict. Read More