Climate Change + Insecurity

What does climate change have to do with peace?

Climate change is a peace and security issue. The effects of climate change have already caused meteorological, social, and political disasters in the most vulnerable of environments, and extreme weather events are occurring more frequently than ever before. If unabated, it will lead increasingly to severe food and water shortages, which worsen or cause territorial conflict. It will also lead to coastal flooding, which means mass migrations and increased conflicts as nations grapple with an influx of climate refugees, who currently are not protected under any international law.

For peace, we must change to green, sustainable energy and ward off the worst damages of climate change.

Working for peace isn’t just about what we’re fighting against; it’s about what we’re fighting for and the kind of world we want to live in.

As a warming planet causes stronger hurricanes, severe droughts in one region and extreme floods in another, and raises sea levels, it is predicted that millions of people will longer be able to live in places they currently call home.

At a United Nations Security Council meeting in 2019, chief climate scientist Abdulla Shahid said that global warming threatens “a multitude of security impacts.” U.S. military officials have long recognized climate change as a threat multiplier,” fueling political instability, conflict, and mass migration in the near future. A recent study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) found strong evidence that climatic conditions, by affecting drought severity and the likelihood of armed conflict, play a significant role in mass migration and asylum-seeking.

How else does climate change lead to political instability?

  • Severe weather leads to crop failure, which decreases agricultural production and creates food insecurity.
  • Decreased natural resources means fewer job opportunities and an economic decline.
  • Extreme weather causes the destruction of residential areas, and populations are displaced in massive numbers.
  • Population displacement stresses Governmental resources, and citizens begin resenting the Government for the limitations of its aid, increasing the risk of violence in local communities.

The Danger of Fossil Fuels

The primary cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the air. As a greenhouse gas, in large quantities carbon dioxide absorbs radiated heat and then traps it in the atmosphere, resulting in the heating up of the atmosphere and subsequently the surface of the earth. Thus, increased release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere results in negative effects on the respiratory system and increased global temperature, causing rising sea levels and degraded biodiversity.


Learn More About Our Climate & Peace Working Group


View Related Federal Legislation