Disentangling the Climate-conflict Nexus: Empirical and Theoretical Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Pathways

Jurgen Scheffran, Michael Brzoska, Jasmin Kominek, P. Michael Link, Janpeter Schilling


Recent research has provided new insights into the relationship between climate change and violent conflict. In this review we compare the results, methodologies, and data applied in the peer-reviewed literature to recap the current state of the debate. While long-term historical studies suggest a coincidence between climate variability and armed conflict, empirical findings are less conclusive for recent periods. Disentangling the climate-conflict nexus, we discuss causal pathways such as precipitation changes, freshwater scarcity, food insecurity, weather extremes, and environmental migration. A geographic differentiation indicates that countries with low human development are particularly vulnerable to the double exposure of natural disasters and armed conflict. Thus, effective institutional frameworks and governance mechanisms are important to prevent climate-induced conflicts and to strengthen cooperation. Applying an integrative framework connecting climate change, natural resources, human security, and societal stability, we pinpoint future research needs.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/res.v4n5p1

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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