“Unlike lockdowns, vaccination and other responses to the ongoing pandemic, risk-reducing effects of alternative climate policies cannot be observed in real time. Instead, to assist decision-makers, scientists have developed a scenario framework that allows analysing how different socioeconomic development pathways and global warming trajectories jointly may affect nature and society over the 21st century.”
Published on the PRIO Climate & Conflict blog in January 2022
“In the same manner as societies are developing policies to strike the optimal balance between public safety and social and economic cost of Covid-19, the international community is negotiating strategies to address climate change,” wrote Halvard Buhaug, Research Professor at PRIO and member of the Mistra Geopolitics Scientific Advisory Board, and Nina von Uexkull, Associate Professor at Uppsala University and theme lead within Mistra Geopolitics.
In their blog for PRIO Climate & Conflict Professor Buhaug and Dr von Uexkull noted that, in recent years, literally thousands of published studies had used the socioeconomic development pathways–global warming trajectories (SSP-RCP) scenario framework to explore the implications of climate and societal change for a broad range of outcomes. They asked whether the same approach could be used to forecast the impacts of climate change on armed conflict.
Both researchers were among the authors of an article published in Global Environmental Change who wrote that conflict researchers have been slow to respond to this opportunity, and the long-term consequences of climate change for peace and security remained largely unknown (de Bruin et al. 2022).
In a new study, published in Environmental Research Letters (Hoch et al. 2021), the scientists address this research gap and implement two novel approaches:
- They estimate how precipitation deficits and other climate-driven hydrological changes will affect conflict risk into the long-term future, based on how these conditions affect conflict today.
- They make use of a new machine-learning model that detects and simulates more flexible, non-linear associations between climate and conflict.
Several scientific articles and blogs have been published on this topic, including “Is climate change driving global conflict?”, which was published in the magazine Political Violence at a Glance in February 2021.
Featured: Nina von Uexkull
Nina von Uexküll
Nina von Uexkull is Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. Nina is leading the Mistra Geopolitics research theme Food Security in the second programme phase. Her main research areas are the impacts of climate change and natural hazards on armed conflict and human security.