There are no shortages of statistics and data on the increasing rapidity with which our climate is changing, or on its effects. While rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers, and extremes in temperature are well-chronicled, the cascading impacts that a transformed climate will have on global peace and security are less clearly understood. This is all the more important since the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provide frameworks for addressing climate change for the international community, yet stop short of including peace and security. In light of its mandate, the extent to which the United Nations Security Council can or should take steps on climate-related peace and security issues is an increasingly urgent question.
This graphic charts global emissions scenarios based on existing trends and increasingly ambitious climate targets. For more on how the Paris Agreement fundamentally realigned the structures of international climate policy, read Severin Fischer’s CSS Analyses in Security Policy here. For more CSS charts and graphics, click here.
The challenge of peacebuilding missions is not only to stop violence and prevent a rekindling of conflict, but also to help societies and governments reset their internal relations on a peaceful path towards sustaining peace.
In the short run, it might be tempting to dismiss environmental issues when considering the insurmountable task of building peace after armed conflict. Yet, it is increasingly clear that the interaction between social, political, and ecological processes decisively shapes the post-conflict landscape.
The specter of water wars has long loomed large in political and popular imaginations. With the end of the Cold War, fresh concerns emerged that future wars would be fought not over ideology but over natural resources. The alliteratively appealing phrase of “water wars” began rolling off the tongue as United Nations leaders and politicians made bold claims about the inevitable carnage that resource scarcity would bring. Climate change heightens these concerns as the gap widens between what science tells us is necessary and what politics tells us is feasible.
The total absence of European policies to address climate-driven migration from Africa is deeply concerning.
Europe is underestimating the primary cause of migration from sub-Saharan Africa: climate change. Environmental changes have a particularly pronounced impact on migration from Africa for at least four reasons: the continent is highly dependent on natural resources and agriculture, which are the first assets to be undermined by climate change; it has poor infrastructure, such as flood defences; its states are often characterized by weak institutions, which are less able to adapt to climate change; and its high poverty rate undermines the resilience of local populations to climate shocks.