Climate-induced stressors to peace: A review of recent literature

Climate-induced stressors to peace: A review of recent literature

Environmental Research Letters

Ayyoob SharifiDahlia SimanganChui Ying LeeSheryl Rose Cay ReyesTarek KatramizJairus Carmela Cajoles JosolLeticia dos MuchangosHassan VirjiShinji KanekoThea Kersti Tandog

Open Access here.

Abstract: Climate change is increasingly recognized as a threat to global peace and security. This paper intends to provide a better understanding of the nature of interactions between climate change and events that undermine peace, through a systematic review of recent literature. It highlights major methodological approaches adopted in the literature, elaborates on the geographic focus of the research at the nexus of climate change and peace, and provides further information on how various climatic stressors such as extreme temperature, floods, sea-level rise, storms, and water stress may be linked to different events that undermine peace (e.g., civil conflict, crime, intercommunal violence, interstate conflict, political conflict, and social conflict) through direct and indirect pathways. Results confirm previous findings that statistical techniques and qualitative case studies are dominant methods in climate-conflict research but show that there has been an increase in the GIS-based risk analyses and qualitative comparative analyses in the recent years. In line with previous reviews, results show that the literature is mainly focused on certain regions of the world and several major regions that have experienced numerous conflicts over the past few years and/or are vulnerable to adverse climatic events are understudied. However, a new finding is that, in the past few years, there has been an increasing focus on Asia, which contrasts with previous reviews that show an African focus in the literature. Also, there is an unbalanced attention to different climatic stressors and peace-related events. Interactions between water stress/extreme temperature and civil and interstate conflicts have received more attention. A major finding is that, only under certain conditions climatic stressors may act as driving forces or aggravating factors. In fact, there is a strong consensus that climate change is less likely to undermine peace in isolation from a wide range of contextual socio-economic and institutional factors such as political instability, poor governance, poverty, homogeneous livelihood structures, and ethnic fractionalization. However, such contextual factors can contribute to undermining peace via either direct or indirect pathways. The former may occur through direct psychological/physiological effects of climatic impacts or via competition over scarce resources. In contrast, in indirect pathways climate change may lead to conflict through diminishing livelihood capacities and/or inducing migration. In addition to synthesizing literature on contextual factors and direct/indirect pathways, the review identifies gaps that need further research.

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