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Wed. October 04, 2023
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The Impact of Climate Change on Global Security
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The climate cataclysm a crisis multiplier with is posing horrifying  calamitous whacks at multiple fronts. New horizons of conflicts are open up which are beyond human capacity and capability to cope with. From chronic food shortages in African countries to India­- Pakistan tussle for water hegemony , from Nigerian unremitting water challenges to Iraq multifaceted water crisis, this pellucid climate menace has emerged as biggest 21 century security destabilizers. This paper explores the impacts of climate on global security by touching on various dimensions by playing out a role in advancing conflicts and inducing irreparable food and water insecurity.

 The situation is deteriorating  with each passing day making the process of abatement more daunting for the international community to cope with.  Rising oceanic temperatures, shrinking mountain glaciers, extreme droughts are advancing climate induced human and national insecurities thereby reducing the people’s ability especially those on the verge of peripheral countries to combat with climate shocks. This accelerant of international insecurity is disproportionately augmenting tensions such as food and water scarcity, resource conflicts and social and economic strains in fragile and week states.

The securitization of climate change begun in 1970s with Richard Ullman work ‘redefining security’, 1987 report of Brundtland Commission titled as ‘ Our Common Future’, Robert Kaplan article ‘dark anarchy’ .The international community has turned to tables of security council in 2007 to hold multilateral discussion on   correlational and spill over effects of climate change on international security and also successfully framed resolution 63/28 and second debate in 2011. This paradigm shift in environment is conceived by international scholars as either a new cold war as in the words of James. R. Lee, Thomas Homer-Dixon have treated environmental stress as threat multiplier for international security as it jeopardizing resource and water security thereby evincing existential crisis to humanity.

 Frustration-aggression theories, group identity theories, structural theories which trace that increased human frustrations, ethnic imbalance generated by mass migration, and structural incapacities that are expediated by climate stress contribute in instigating conflicts. Climate creates resource scarcity, decrease agricultural production, results in population displacement which in turn triggers a variety of conflicts. Resource scarcity conflicts for example conflict over great Anatolian project over Euphrates River, conflict over timber right in Africa, and many others are the outcomes of climate havocs. The paucity of resources induces supply and demand scarcity, structural scarcity, and ecological marginalization such as that in Philippines by giving rise to zero sum games. Racial strife which is the upshots of ethnic imbalance as an aftermath of ecological imbalance creates the impetus for group identity conflicts for example Bangladesh Assam region. Another example of group identity conflict with ecological problems at backstage is soccer war.in 1969.With the growing gaps between economic achievements of individuals and their expected desires which creates relative deprivation, environmental paradigm shattering is also serving a cause of relative deprivation conflicts. Not only are new conflicts precipitated but is rubbing already exasperated conflicts in wrong way. The frequency of climate-induced conflicts is so intense that 12 out of 21 countries that are suffering from climate change are also conflict ridden. The environmental malfunctions are broadening the gap between North and the south. The peripheral and fragile states of global South are representing a picture of stumbling block with their anemic institutions incapacitated to cope with variety of problems like abominable poverty such as in Filipino. Climate change have also shaken the state- centric notion of security by placing a question mark on economic, food and health security of under developed countries where intensive urbanization, population displacement, structural poverty have created socio economic problems. These hurdles in human security are concocting implacable social friction and thus prompting civil strife for instance Sudan civil war and Syrian civil war. Both traditional and non- traditional security implications of climate change such as weather- related disasters and energy insecurities. Even the Arab Spring was the result of increase in food prices, which is an impact of climate-induced insecurity. International community have achieved milestones ranging from first international climate program 1980 to Rio Earth Summit 1992, Kyoto Protocol 1997 and Copenhagen Climate Change Conference 2009, Paris Agreement 2015 and European Green Deal 2019.  The already politically charged insecure regions like that of Middle East and sub Saharan Africa are the real sufferers of climate-induced insecurities.  Its not only states and institutions which are suffering in the hand of sickening environment but also the resilience of international legal system is under check. International law which was having its own lapses and bugs especially which were exposed in case of violent conflicts inflicting irredeemable vandalism were in turn indemnified in ICRC guidelines. Human beings need to frame institutions, mechanisms to nip the evil of climate change in bud by kicking he old habits and attitudes.

Zunaira Malik currently enrolled in BA hons international relations program at Kinnaird college for women University Lahore in semester 6. 



  • Madariaga, S. Javier,(n.d). Climate Change and international security. High representative and the European Commission to the European  Council.
  • Conca,Ken, Thawaites,Joe and Lee Goueun, 2017, Climate Change and Global security : what role for the UN security council? , Fes New York,
  • Murphy Vanessa and Gieseken  Helen. 2021. Fighting without a Planet B: How IHL protects the natural environment. ICRC.
  • Davies Kirsten, Riddell Thomas, 2018. The Warming War : How Climate Change is Creating Threats to International Peace and Security. The Georgetown Envitl. Law Review.

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