Policymakers and emergency managers tend to build a conceptual wall between natural hazards and terrorism. The causes of—and remedies for—these two kinds of disasters are seen as separate and distinct. But, in the era of climate change, the wall between the two is crumbling. As climate and weather patterns shift, the resulting environmental crisis is being leveraged as a tool for terror and political violence.
In the Inner Mongolian county of Horinger, Northwestern China, afforestation efforts have transformed a barren, dusty landscape into a pine forest. Planting trees has diminished the sandstorms, boosted biodiversity and improved the environment generally. As the climate emergency worsens, the potential for planted trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere is being re-examined. What can the world learn from the Chinese experience with afforestation?
Two events in August 2019 underlined the complexity of paving the way to a climate-neutral world: the publishing of the new IPCC report and the Amazon fires. Both events demand that climate diplomats move beyond a narrowed focus on energy in decarbonisation debates.
As the links between the climate crisis and risks to global peace and prosperity become ever more evident, foreign policy actors are increasingly under pressure to step up their efforts to address climate-related risks. To increase the momentum for addressing climate-related drivers of conflict, the German Federal Foreign Office in partnership with adelphi and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) hosted the Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) at the German Federal Foreign Office on 4 June 2019.
Without electricity, Gaza is unable to treat its sewage water. This has already led to the closure of one of Israel’s key desalination plants, which uses water from the Mediterranean Sea. In Jordan, recurring droughts and the influx of refugees have resulted in a water crisis with regional spillover effects. Such examples create a clear message: climate and environment know no borders. In this interview, EcoPeace Directors Nada Majdalani (Palestine), Yana Abu-Taleb (Jordan) and Gidon Bromberg (Israel) explain why disengaging from a shared environment can aggravate the region’s security challenges.
At the conclusion of the 50th Pacific Islands Forum, Pacific leaders issued a Forum Communiqué and the ‘Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now’ – the strongest collective statement the Forum has issued on climate change. Pacific leaders highlight the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, the SAMOA Pathway Review, and 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC as “global turning points to ensure meaningful, measurable and effective climate change action”.
If ratified, the Mercosur-EU trade deal may reinforce the parties’ commitment to climate action. Yet, its potential relevance is weakened by a language that often stops short of concrete commitments, as well as political resistance.
Iraq is on the verge of an environmental breakdown, and climate change is not helping. The country's fragile environment and the increasing scarcity of natural resources — particularly water — are a result of poor environmental management, as well as several political and historical factors. However, as climate change impacts add to the existing pressures, the environmental collapse turns into a security issue.
Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. The Special Report on Climate Change and Land, launched by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 8 August 2019, looks into land resources as critical for the climate, and highlights the importance of sound land management for addressing climate change. The report will be a key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations.
The severity of desertification and its mutual relationship with climate change cannot be overstated. In light of the recent launch of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Robert McSweeney from Carbon Brief explains what desertification is, what role climate change plays, and what impact it has across the world.
Africa is vulnerable to natural variations in climate and human-induced climate change. Adapting to these impacts is key to achieving Africa’s development targets, and requires a coordinated and synergistic approach from a diverse range of actors across sectors, as well as better understanding of the drivers of risk and vulnerability. The African Climate Risks Conference (ACRC) is an open platform for sharing the latest African climate research among researchers, policy makers, practitioners and development partners.
The 2015 Paris Agreement has focused global attention on the need for countries to address climate change risks. But not all countries are equal, in terms of either their ambition or ability to achieve economies which are low-carbon and aligned with greenhouse gas emission trajectories which scientists say are necessary to limit warming to 2ºC. The associated transition in national energy systems and broader economies to a low-carbon world will present risks, but also opportunities.
A new form of organized crime has recently been emerging in the Amazon: illegal mining. Miners fell trees, use high-grade explosives for blasting soils and dredge riverbeds. But the impacts go beyond environmental damage, bringing with it a slew of other social problems. Peace researcher Adriana Abdenur urges policymakers to improve coordination and argues that diplomacy may help prevent further conflicts, corruption and crime.