Annual Peace Index Cites Climate Change as ‘Tipping Point’ for Conflict
Climate change will threaten peace in countries around the world in the next decade, according to the latest edition of an annual index produced by Australia’s Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
“Nearly a billion people live in areas at high risk from global warming and about 40% of them are in countries already struggling with conflict,” the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports, citing the IEP. “Climate change causes conflict due to competition over diminishing resources, and may also threaten livelihoods and force mass migration.”
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“We can actually get a much better idea of which countries are most at risk, what are the types of risk, and what would be the level of impact before it leads to a break or an implosion within the country,” said IEP Executive Chair Steve Killelea. He added that climate change can create a tipping point, particularly in countries that are already struggling, pushing tensions to the point where conflict breaks out.
And “unless we have a world which is basically peaceful, it will be impossible to get the levels of trust and cooperation necessary to solve these problems.”
Using data from think tanks, research institutes, governments, and universities, and a set of 23 indicators ranging from homicide rates to weapon imports, the Institute concluded the world became slightly more peaceful in 2019 for the first time in five years, Thomson Reuters states. “However, it remains significantly less peaceful than 10 years ago, due to factors including conflicts in the Middle East, a rise in terrorism, and increasing numbers of refugees.”
The IEP earned praise from the Washington, DC-based World Resources Institute for including climate change in its list of risk factors. “We know that environmental degradation and water stress can lead to hunger, famine, and displacement, and combined with economic and political instability, can lead to migration and conflict,” said Managing Director Manish Bapna. “The fact that climate change is now part of the Global Peace Index underscores how multi-faceted this threat is and how quickly we need to act.”A separate study this week in the journal Nature cites climate change as a factor in “organized armed conflict” within countries. While “other drivers, such as low socio-economic development and low capabilities of the state, are judged to be substantially more influential,” the abstract states, “the mechanisms of climate-conflict linkages remain a key uncertainty,” and “intensifying climate change is estimated to increase future risks of conflict.”