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Climate and conflicts: the security risks of global warming

Abstract

Since the publication of the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, the securitization of global warming has reached a new level. Numerous public statements and a growing research literature have discussed the potential security risks and conflicts associated with climate change. This article provides an overview of this debate and introduces an assessment framework of climate stress, human security and societal impacts. Key fields of conflict will be addressed, including water stress, land use and food security, natural disasters and environmental migration. A few regional hot spots of climate security will be discussed, such as land-use conflicts in Northern Africa; floods, sea-level rise and human security in Southern Asia; glacier melting and water insecurity in Central Asia and Latin America; water conflicts in the Middle East; climate security in the Mediterranean; and the potential impact on rich countries. Finally, concepts and strategies will be considered to minimize the security risks and move from conflict to cooperation in climate policy.

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Acknowledgments

Research for this publication was supported in parts through the Cluster of Excellence ‘CliSAP’ (EXC177), University of Hamburg, funded through the German Science Foundation (DFG). The work on this article was done between summer 2006 and summer 2010 and reflects some of the significant changes in the debate on the securitization of climate change that occurred in between.

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Scheffran, J., Battaglini, A. Climate and conflicts: the security risks of global warming. Reg Environ Change 11, 27–39 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-010-0175-8

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Keywords

  • Climate security
  • Environmental conflict
  • Human security
  • Regional hot spots
  • Resource scarcity
  • Risks of global warming