February 2, 2023

 

EUNACR production 2022

Peace, Conflict and Security Unit – collaborative work

 

 

 

Global warming has significant potential implications for security and conflict. Several studies argue that climate change aggravates environmental degradation and resource scarcity, which may contribute to violent conflict in a number of ways (Campbell 2007). This includes resource captures, mass migrations, and conflicts over the distribution of risks and costs of economic exploitation of resources. The causal chains from climate stress to human insecurity, societal instability, and violent conflict are complex and shaped by many interactions that are not yet fully understood. While the research literature does not provide clear evidence of the environment-conflict hypothesis from previous cases, the expected magnitude of climate change could severely undermine human security and overwhelm the adaptive capacities of societies in many world regions, bearing a significant conflict potential. This has contributed to an increasing securitization of climate policy (Brauch 2009; Brown 2007). The purpose of this paper is to explain the relationship between climate change and conflict. Therefore, this paper uses the theory of Eco-Peace that emphasizes the role of ecological sustainability and economic self-sufficiency as structures that discourage violent conflicts and wars.

 

Theoretical framework: Eco-Peace theory:

  • Explanations of Environmental Warfare from Structural Perspectives:

According to Waltz’s second image of war, internal defects of a state, such as a type of government that is thought to be bad or economic deprivations, lead the state to undertake the war. Thus, removing these defects of states would establish the basis for peace (Waltz 1954). Likewise, when environmental degradation and the scarcity of natural resources lead countries to disputes and war, we should look at the defects of states or society, not the phenomenon of environmental degradation or the scarcity of natural resources, as the possible causes of conflict. Here, it reviews the theories developed by scholars that have attempted to explain this problem from the structural perspective. It then builds a theoretical framework through the critical deconstruction and reconstruction of those theories based on the concept of ecological sustainability.

Choucri uses a structural perspective to explain the tendency of society to reach for resources beyond its home borders. According to them, to meet demands that are rising as a result of a growing population, advancing technology, new expectations, or security requirements, a society can be expected to draw on local resources first, if only because they are close at hand and likely to be less costly to obtain than those from farther away. If resources in demand are not domestically available, however, or can be acquired cheaper from abroad, a society faces two main possibilities: it can develop new technology in order to obtain old resources at a lower cost or it can reach out for resources from abroad through trade, territorial expansion, or both (Choucri and North 1989). Choucri’s analysis shows that population growth and the development of technology produce demand for natural resources, and when this demand is not satisfied within the society, a society goes abroad to satisfy it. While this analysis shows a connection between several factors influencing society’s demand and war, it does not show any possible defect of socioeconomic structure that would increase demands for non-renewable natural resources. Rather, Choucri attributes the cause to some other social factors such as population, technology, expectations, and security requirements.

On the other hand, Brock (1991) and Bahro (1984) indicate that the industrial system that developed in Europe is a cause of conflict and war. Analyzing the historical utilization of natural resources, Brock argues that demand for natural resources stems from the valuation of natural resources by the industrial system to help the process of capital accumulation. He shows the role of forests in enhancing the armament process and capital accumulation in Europe and in the European conquest of the world. “…timber was cut in huge amounts, with grave ecological consequences; to build the military fleets with which the Europeans fought each other and which later on were used to protect the economic penetration of overseas territories. In turn, the resources brought back from colonial territories helped to spur the process of capital accumulation that formed the basis for the establishment of the industrial system. This system, originating in Europe, set the pace for the systematic worldwide valuation of natural resources, a process still accompanied by considerable collective violence”(Brock 1991, 409).

Similarly, Bahro indicates a linkage between violent conflict and the modern industrial system. He argues that militarism is a natural consequence of the industrial system’s dependence on raw materials, and industrialism has increased the possibility of the self-destruction of humanity and its natural habitat. Bahro calls this tendency of the industrial system “exterminism” (Bahro 1984, 212; 1994). Both Brock and Bahro see the industrial system as an impetus for demand for raw materials, leading society to conflict and war in order to supply resources to the industrial system. While their analysis provides structural insight in analyzing the connection between the environment and conflict, the problem lies in their denial of the industrial system itself as an object to be avoided. That is, by denying the whole industrial system itself as the “logic of self-destruction or exterminism,” they overlook the possibility that certain attributes of the current industrial system, not the industrial system as a whole, are responsible for the growing demand for natural resources.

In this respect, Frankel’s criticism of Bahro is persuasive. Frankel (1987) counters Bahro by arguing, “The struggle against extremism is not necessarily reducible to the struggle against industrial civilization. It is possible to conceive of industrial society without nuclear weapons and large military-industrial complexes.” Similarly, Dryzek indicates that critiquing the dominant forms of reason does not require abandoning all forms of reason and science.

 

 

Definitions of ecological sustainability:

There have been many different definitions of the concept of ecological sustainability or environmental sustainability. Some of them are as follows. “Ecological sustainability refers to development activity that acknowledges biophysical limits and the need to maintain essential ecological processes and life-supporting systems upon which all life depends” (Berke and Kartes 1994).

“The ecological definition of sustainability focuses on natural biological processes and the continued productivity and functioning of ecosystems. Long-term ecological sustainability requires the protection of generic resources and the conservation of biological diversity” (Brown 1987, 176).

The theory Eco-Peace:

The theory of eco-peace presented the logic of an ecologically unsustainable socioeconomic structure that yields environmental degradation, the depletion of natural resources, and therefore a lack of economic self-sufficiency. Such systems are more likely to engage in violent conflicts than ecologically sustainable systems. The theory of Eco-Peace is composed of two parts: One is ecological sustainability and interstate conflict and the other is ecological sustainability and intrastate conflict.

  1. Ecological Sustainability, Economic Self-Sufficiency, and International Conflict.

 

The first proposition is that ecologically unsustainable socioeconomic structures produce conditions that encourage aggressive behavior toward other societies or regions in order to meet the society’s internal demand for natural resources. Ecologically unsustainable industrial socioeconomic structures increase the demand for natural resources. This demand, in turn, promotes the initiation of violent conflict with other societies.

This argument is different from the theory of imperialism summarized above. The theory of imperialism argues that the cause of international conflict is the inner contradiction of capitalism that leads financial capital to seek foreign markets and raw materials abroad. This results in conflict among capitalist powers as they compete for markets. The theory of eco-peace claims that it is neither the capitalist nor socialist system but rather the ecological unsustainability of each system that leads to the environment and natural resource-related international conflicts.

2. Ecological Sustainability, Environmental Degradation, and Resource Depletion

The logic of the relationship between ecological sustainability and conflict is as follows. To produce industrial goods and services, a nation uses elements of its socioeconomic structure to extract natural resources from the environment. Industrial structures then process these natural resources into end-products for consumption and dispose of large amounts of dissipated or chemically transformed resources back into the environment as waste (Turner, Pearce, and Bateman 1993). In this process of industrial production, ecologically unsustainable socioeconomic structures generate the demand for non-renewable natural resources by causing environmental degradation and the depletion of natural resources.

First, an unsustainable socioeconomic structure causes environmental degradation by depending heavily on non-renewable natural resources that generate pollution, using harmful chemical products such as harmful pesticides, and releasing non-biodegradable waste into the environment. Faced with the energy requirements of industry, an unsustainable socioeconomic structure relies on the use of non-renewable natural resources such as fossil fuels. The extensive use of fossil fuels – i.e. coal, and oil – causes environmental degradation in the form of air, water, and soil pollution. The use of harmful chemical products and the release of hazardous or non-biodegradable waste cause environmental degradation by polluting lakes, rivers, streams, and soil. In addition, this pollution causes further damage to renewable resources throughout ecological circulation chains.

For example, acid rain, which is caused by atmospheric sulfur and nitrogen oxides that are released by the burning of coal, causes acidification of soil, lakes, and streams, the corrosion of materials, retarded growth, or even the death of forests, and the degradation of ecosystems (Kegley and Wittkopf 1999, 328). Therefore, environmental degradation decreases the availability and quality of renewable natural resources such as freshwater, timber, and arable land. For instance, low-quality water – caused by pollution or the use of harmful chemical products such as pesticides – makes it unsuitable for drinking, industrial use, and agriculture (Wolf, 2005: 81). As a result, it increases the demand for other available natural resources.

 

Second, unsustainable socioeconomic structures generate a shortage of available renewable resources such as fresh water and timber. Mass industrial production and food production systems require excessive usage of renewable natural resources, at higher rates than the regenerative capacity of the natural environment. As mass production proceeds, it requires massive usage of renewable resources such as water, and it decreases the number of renewable resources available in the region. For example, China has experienced serious water shortages all over the nation since it began its program of rapid industrialization, which has been carried out in an unsustainable way. As a result, the Yangtze – China’s longest river – is being depleted (WWF 2007).

 

Third, unsustainable socioeconomic structures also cause the depletion of nonrenewable natural resources, such as coal and oil, by their excessive use of them. The depletion of natural resources increases the price of those resources by reducing their supply. This increases the relative level of demand for non-renewable natural resources. In addition, the imperative of limitless economic growth that characterizes this type of system increases demand for non-renewable natural resources.

 

 

3. Ecological Sustainability and the Initiation of Interstate Conflict.

 

Usually, the initiation of this type of conflict is possible only with sufficient military capabilities and favorable political circumstances. For societies that do not have sufficient military capabilities, it would be difficult to initiate conflict with other societies that have stronger military capabilities. Therefore, some countries often prepare for these situations by increasing their military spending. For instance, China is one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world. Nevertheless, it has built this growth momentum by means of unsustainable modes of industrialization. To ensure its access to the natural resources needed to sustain the growth of its industrial sector, China increased its military expenditure by 17.8% in 2007 compared to 2006.

China has increased its military spending threefold in real terms. At the global level, military spending, which had declined after the end of the Cold War, is rising again (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2007; hereafter SIPRI). The world’s top five spenders are highly industrialized nations such as the US, Japan, Britain, France, and China (SIPRI 2007).

Political circumstances such as the approval of Congress to initiate war or national consensus on the declaration of war can be another condition that allows the initiation of violent conflict over natural resources. In democratic societies, it is often essential to gain sufficient support from the legislature or the public in order to initiate military attacks toward other countries. Other factors, according to the literature on interstate conflict, that might affect the propensity of societies to engage in such interstate conflicts include whether a society has a democratic regime or not, whether a society has extensive interdependency with other societies through trade, whether a state has many alliances or not, whether there has been dramatic population growth in the society, or whether a society has experienced rapid economic growth or decline (Bennet and Nordstrom 2000; Goldstein 1988). Regarding those other factors, a couple of cases can be described to show how different paths can be made from common ecological non-sustainability. Japan, as the world’s third-largest consumer of oil, is a country that heavily depends on imported oil for its industry. Japan initiated the Pacific War in 1941 by attacking Pearl Harbor. However, Japan has not initiated any further militarized conflict since the end of World War II. What factors, then, have contributed to explaining the different paths that Japan pursued before and after World War II?

The several conditions indicated in the theory of eco-peace explain this question. First, both before and after World War II, Japan had an ecologically unsustainable socioeconomic structure and has always been heavily dependent on foreign oil. As a country with the world’s second-largest military expenditure, Japan also has sufficient military power to initiate militarized conflict with other nations (Nation Master 2009).

However, other conditions have contributed to Japan’s different (non-militarized) path in the post-World War II era. One suspected reason that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 is American control of Indonesian oil and oil supply routes to Japan. Not being in alliance with the US and losing its oil trade route, Japan’s leaders believed they did not have any other choice but to attack America. That is, in 1941, the alliance and trade situation was not favorable for Japan, leading it to initiate violent interstate conflict. The situation for Japan after World War II, however, has changed. Despite having a similar socioeconomic structure which is not ecologically sustainable, Japan now maintains a strong alliance relationship with the US, which once attempted to cut Japan’s oil supply route. Japan also maintains diverse trade relationships with various countries including Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Mexico, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. In addition, and most importantly, the political conditions in Japan do not allow it to threaten or use force as a means of settling international disputes (The Constitution of Japan, art.9).

The so-called “peace constitution” has prohibited Japan from taking aggressive military action toward other countries. These conditions – alliance, trade, and the political constraint of the Japanese Constitution – have led Japan to a different path from the one pursued before World War II. However, as has been mentioned in the previous part, Japan has been constantly attempting to amend its constitution so that it can deploy military forces abroad to resolve international disputes. Other cases that can be compared are those of Singapore and Israel. Both Israel and Singapore suffer from severe environmental degradation, and they are highly dependent on imported energy resources for their industries. Both Israel and Singapore have strong militaries that spend 7.3% (Israel) and 4.9% (Singapore) of their GDP respectively. Their armed forces are considered very advanced and powerful in each region (Institute for Middle East Understanding, 2009). Why, then, has Singapore not initiated interstate conflicts while Israel has been constantly involved in violent conflicts with its neighbors? One of the main differences between the two states is their trade conditions. Singapore has an extensive range of trading partners. It has 14 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and maintains diplomatic relations with 175 countries. Therefore, Singapore imports energy from diverse sources and is a major oil refining and trading hub. Moreover, local companies in Singapore have been active in overseas energy exploration and production (Energy Information Administration 2006). In contrast, Israel’s trade relations are very limited compared to those of Singapore. Israel’s trade relationship is mostly with The United States, the European Union, and some other countries such as China, Canada, and Turkey. Regarding energy imports, in particular, Israel’s trade routes are neither diverse nor stable. Having conflicts with oil-rich Middle East countries, Israel’s trade with Arab countries is minimal. Israel gained access to Egyptian oil fields in Sinai after the Six-Day War in 1967. After the Camp David peace accord, Israel returned to the fields in 1979 but was still able to purchase oil from Egypt. However, Israel had to look elsewhere to satisfy its energy needs as Egypt’s energy demand for its own domestic population increased and Israel’s demand for oil increased as well. As a result, the fraction of Egyptian oil in Israel’s oil imports had shrunk from one-third in 1995 to one-eighth in 2000, and Israel was forced to look elsewhere for its energy supply (Engber 2006).

One interesting thing with regard to Israel’s search for stable energy sources is that Palestine, which is a conflicting neighbor of Israel, is estimated to have rich oil and natural gas reserves in Gaza. Palestine is reported to have a gas field that has at least 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas. The gas field, Gaza Marine 1, was founded by BG Group in partnership with Palestine in 1999. However, despite Palestinian expectations, Palestine was not able to develop it for its own use or sell it abroad. Palestine’s own needs are so small that it was not economical to develop the field, and Israel, a potential consumer of Palestine’s oil and gas, blocked a Palestinian proposal that would have allowed Palestine’s gas to fuel electric power plants in Israel (Bryce 2005). It is suspected that Israel has thwarted Palestine’s effort to develop the gas field because Israel has not wanted to empower the Palestinian government with revenue from the gas field. In addition, it is also suspected that Israel wants Palestine’s oil and gas for its own use due to its increasing energy demands (Chossudovsky 2009; Martha Rose Crow 2009).

Figure 1: The logic of Ecological Sustainability and Interstate Conflict.

  1. The Loss of Ecological Sustainability in the Third World:

Source: Jong-Han Yoon, (2010), https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30531/m2/1/high_res_d/dissertation.pdf

 

 

Ecologically unsustainable development has spread to Third World societies from advanced industrialized societies. This ecologically unsustainable mode of development has contributed to intrastate conflicts in Third World societies by generating environmental degradation and natural resource depletion. Advanced industrialized societies have promoted their ecologically unsustainable mode of development in Third World societies since the 1960s. However, the imposition of unsustainable modes of industrialization changed the socioeconomic structure of Third World societies. By adopting unsustainable patterns of industrialization, agricultural practices, fishing, and logging, many Third World societies have lost their ecological sustainability. For example, the so-called “green revolution” has caused the excessive use of chemical pesticides. Eventually, this has resulted in crop varieties that are very susceptible to pest attacks as insects become resistant to the pesticide. Also, beneficial natural enemies of pests are killed by pesticides causing new pest outbreaks (D. Pimentel and M. Pimentel 1990). Although the “green revolution” produced initial increases in agricultural production, the effect of the green revolution has dissipated, with declining yields of crops in some areas and the increased cost of buying chemicals and machinery that are needed for these “modern” ways of agriculture (Khor 1996).

In addition, in countries that abandoned traditional forms of agriculture in favor of mass production of export crops, land ownership has become concentrated in the hands of those who could convert land use to export crops. As a result, peasant smallholders and tenants were displaced from the land, and they are consequently relegated to the status of landless seasonal wage labors. This result created new sources of conflict between displaced landless wage laborers and agro-export entrepreneurs (Mason 2004; Paige 1975). As the Third World societies became ecologically unsustainable, environmental degradation and natural resource depletion occurred. Those lead to intrastate conflicts through several different paths such as civil unrest, secession, and revolution. Those different paths are described in the following section. Multinational corporations, foreign investors, and local elites and governments in Third World societies are often the main actors in the process of degrading the environment in Third World societies. Multinational corporations or foreign investors, in collaboration with local elites who control local resources, extract natural resources such as timber and minerals. Often, the governments in the Third World take the world market-oriented development approach that sells high-value natural resources. The development approach is often advised and supported by international organizations that are mainly led by advanced industrial countries. The Washington Consensus, which is a set of commonly shared policy prescriptions advised by Washington-based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund(IMF) or World Bank, have encouraged Third World governments to open their economies to trade and foreign direct investment, and to privatize state enterprises (Williamson, 1989). As a result, multinational corporations were able to extract natural resources from those rich in natural resources. This development strategy often causes massive destruction of the local environment. Environmental scarcity caused by unsustainable development practices often produces migrants and refugees, which can generate identity conflicts. Homer-Dixon and other scholars show evidence of the links that connect environmental scarcity, migration, and group identity conflict using the cases of Bangladesh and Northeast India, Pakistan, and South Africa (Homer-Dixon and Blitt 1998).

For instance, in the case of South Africa, the apartheid regime relegated the black population to areas with a fragile environment marked by thin topsoil that is not suitable for agricultural production. Moreover, soil quality was degraded by the overuse of agrochemicals and by acid rain that caused soil acidification. Acid rain resulted from the heavy reliance on coal in South African industries. Water pollution from industrial sources and seepage from coalmines also threatened the quality of rivers and groundwater. These environmental scarcities were intensified because powerful groups took control over scarce resources. Twenty percent of farmers controlled up to eighty percent of land and three or four landholders owned eighty percent of the livestock grazing on communal land. Environmental scarcity combined with the control of resources by small powerful groups produces devastating poverty. In order to avoid poverty, the poor migrated to urban areas. However, in the urban area, the apartheid system ensured black townships were built on sites not useful for the white community. The black population, concentrated in a limited area, faced inadequate access to basic services such as electricity, water, and sewage disposal facilities. As resources became scarce, powerful warlords mobilized their communities to seize resources in the neighboring township. In response, township youths organized military-style units to defend their areas and counter-attack squatter areas. In 1990, The Reef Township War broke out between migrant workers and residents of townships in regions around Johannesburg (Percival and Homer-Dixon 1998).

Moreover, environmental scarcity increases state vulnerability by increasing demands on the state from society and decreasing sources of revenue and taxes for the state to meet the demand as explained below. The demands on the state increase due to reduced agricultural production, migration to urban areas, and economic hardship. However, state revenue decreases because of reduced economic productivity and therefore reduced taxes (Homer- Dixon and Blitt 1998). Unless farmlands are converted to industrial production, which might take a while to build, it is inevitable that the state will face decreased revenue. Environmental scarcity further weakens the state’s capacity, legitimacy, and cohesion by exacerbating intra-elite competition. Natural resource scarcity generates both winners and losers among elites competing for control over scarce resources. This competition can be between the state and social elites or among elites within the ruling party and military or both. While the winner groups are able to take benefits from capturing and monopolizing scarce resources, the loser group may suffer. Winners become more able to increase their own wealth and influence state policy in their favor.

 

 

 

 

Figure 2: Ecological Unsustainable Development and Interstate Conflict.

Source: Jong-Han Yoon, (2010), https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30531/m2/1/high_res_d/dissertation.pdf

In sum, ecologically unsustainable development in the Third World results in the following three types of intra-state conflict. First, it triggers civil unrest by farmers or others victimized in areas where environmental exploitation occurs. Second, secession occurs when resources are concentrated in areas where regional ethnic groups live. Third, it also leads to revolution when elite groups conflict over control of the state.

 

 

The Effects of Climate Change on Conflict: 

Climate change is any change in climate over time caused by natural variability or human activities. the climate is changing, largely as a result of human activities, and these changes will result in severe global consequences. climate change does not directly cause armed conflict, but it may indirectly increase the risk of conflict by exacerbating existing social, economic, and environmental factors. Climate change is widely recognized as a “threat multiplier” due to its role of exacerbating the traditional cause of conflict. The most egregious form is the way changes in climate alter competition over increasingly scarce resources. Research on the so-called ‘heat–aggression relationship’ suggests there is a 10- 20% increase in the risk of armed conflict associated with each 0.5°C increase in local temperatures. Many scholars and scientists agreed on the hypothesis stating that “When temperature increases, the number of terrorist attacks and deaths due to terrorist attacks tend to increase”.

This hypothesis has paved the way, today, for a reduction in the growth of climate change being recognized as an essential prerequisite to achieving peace in many parts of the world. Alongside the cultivation of economic and political stability, increased peace as a product of addressing climate change efforts at the heart of much environmental protection and restoration work. The majority of researchers broadly agree on issues that provide the impetus for conflict sensitivity in climate change adaptation. The first is that climate change can cause scarcities of resources, which can lead to competitive use of resources and consequently contribute to conflicts. The second is that climate change can exacerbate existing threats to peace and security. There is a general consensus that climate variability and change exacerbate the scarcity of natural resources on the African continent, where the majority of people depend on land, water, and oceans for their livelihood. This scarcity happens through sudden climate events or through slower changes and variability, such as changes in temperature and rainfall. Increases in extreme or sudden events – such as flooding or prolonged droughts – reduce the availability of arable land, water, food, and fish stocks. Slower, insidious changes and variability in temperature and rainfall patterns – that cause desertification, water, and land shortages – are no less hazardous, as they place long-term stresses on already vulnerable communities. Climate change can drive displacement and undermine human rights. Extreme weather and other adverse effects of climate change can lead to displacement. The latest Global Report on Internal Displacement found that, in 2020, 30 million people were newly-displaced as a result of weather-related disasters – compared with 9.8 million as a result of conflict and violence. In addition to being uprooted from their homes, internally displaced persons tend to be poorer and less food secure. A recent report by the World Bank found that as many as 216 million people could move within their own countries due to slow-onset climate change impacts by 2050. Their enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights may also be compromised.

 

Overview: Climate Change

Environmental Degradation leads to Climate Fluctuation. This may be a natural process by nature, or it may be caused by a human footprint. Climate Variability is fluctuation in climate within a small time frame: month, season. Fluctuations, such as the intensity or frequency of temperature, rain, etc., are a natural cycle of climate variability. Yet, persistent variations indicate a potential climate change.

Climate Change is a fluctuation in climate within a large time frame: decades, or centuries. On the individual level, we tend to honk our car horns more often when the weather is hotter. Similarly, on the policy level, research has proven that Climate Change indirectly increases Conflict. Research suggests that each 0.5°C increase in temperatures, contributes to increasing the risk of conflict by over 20%. According to a Stanford Study, the climate has influenced nearly 20% of armed conflict risk throughout the last century, and its influence is increasing significantly.

Moreover, weather experts have projected global temperatures to rise over the next decades by at least 2°C. While Climate Change is of the least influential factors on Public Policy, yet, it’s the most uncertain; thus, it’s crucial to anticipate and identify its effects on policy. Climate change’s effects are drivers of conflict, as it increases competition for resources; thus increasing potential conflict. Climate Change solely doesn’t cause war, yet socioeconomic and political pressures, ripen the soil for conflict.

 

 

 

Drivers of Conflict: Climate Change

 

Urbanization

The indirect consequences of climate change, notably, migration and urbanization may benefit both migrants and host countries. However, there is often a great challenge in embracing immigrants, especially in communities that have very limited and scarce resources. Nonetheless, rapid urbanization may peacefully occur in advanced and stable nations like Japan; yet the political response is key to avoiding conflict. Unfortunately, the most climate-vulnerable countries are also the least resilient, as their Post-colonial political institutions have been weakened and corrupted for decades. Which would be further scrutinized through the lens of the African and Asian Case Studies below. However, it is crucial to first analyze how climate affects Migration, Water, Agriculture, Energy, and Health also drive conflict.

Migration

Sudden shocks and survival challenges caused or magnified by climate change, force migration. Currently, international migrants across the world have exceeded 200 million and are expected to double by 2050. Migration occurs from one rural community to another, or from climate-vulnerable rural areas into more developed urban centers; in pursuit of a better standard of living. Thus, climate effects drive migration, causing rapid urbanization, and if not politically absorbed, increases poverty, conflict, and, criminality.

Water

Globally, over 500 million people face water scarcity and are significantly rising due to climate change effects on water levels causing fluctuations in rainfall or temperatures; leading to droughts, famine, and instability. The situation is even worse when a military powerhouse state is downstream to a much weaker one. The Middle East, West Africa, Central Asia, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Mexico, India, and China are among the regions and countries that were and are highly prone to water conflict in the near future. Also, development programs that advocate privatization of the water supply, while neglecting the rights of the lower classes, contribute to heightened tensions.

Agriculture

Temperature and precipitation are key for agricultural production. However, food-insecure regions such as the Middle East, Africa, and Asia are also the most prone to reduced crop yields. Moreover, sea levels rise from glacier melting also affects coastal cities with high populations; thus, decreasing cultivatable land across South Asia and other developing regions around the world.

Energy

Energy consumption increases climate change, which in essence increases energy requirements to cope with climate effects in developing countries. However, energy is crucial for development; mitigating climate change through reduced energy consumption would threaten human and food security in poor countries, slow economic growth and generate political instability and conflict in middle-income countries. Thus, reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy sources are vital. Nonetheless, transitioning to renewable energy sources is complicated even in high-income states with political stability. It is indeed more difficult and costly in poorer states.

Health

Climate change also severely impacts Public Health, as temperature and rain fluctuations are linked to cholera, malaria, and epidemics. Epidemics harm the socioeconomic balance of power and initiate conflict between communities over key resources of adaptation. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, cyclones, and storms would produce more casualties, exerting further pressure on overloaded medical resources. Heat waves, cholera, malaria, droughts, or famines would also severely damage the safe drinking water supply and potentially contaminate it, which will mostly affect the poorest and marginalized communities, including migrants. Failed state basic public health efforts lead to greater political instability and, in some cases, violent conflict.

 

 

 

 

Case Studies: Climate Conflict Africa-Asia

The consequences of climate change in a country can shape the realities of citizens of other living thousands of kilometers away. The Horn of Africa has been shattered by decades of climate conflict; ranging from droughts and floods to food insecurities and forced migrations. In the Sahel, political institutions are already weakened and fail to adapt to an unpredictable climate amidst conflict, violence, and instability. In Yemen and Iraq, decades of conflict have hampered water infrastructure, damaged public health, threatened food security, and left both nations vulnerable and prone to climate change, with no resilient institutions to undertake adaptation or mitigation. Around 60% of the 20 most vulnerable countries to climate change are sites of armed conflict, according to the ND-Gain Index. Partially because of their geographical location, and greatly due to conflict affecting institutions, infrastructure, and governance; thus, weakening resilience. Climate conflict is highly prevalent in rural areas, where populations depend on the natural environment for their survival. In sub-Saharan African (SSA), nearly three-quarters of the population is dependent on agriculture.

A joint research study between Princeton University and UC Berkeley scrutinized 60 studies (see Table below), through the lens of anthropology, archaeology, criminology, economics, and psychology on data tracing to 10,000 B.C. The report’s findings reveal that as temperature increases by 1 standard deviation from the local norm, interpersonal violence such as assault, rape, or murder rise by 4%, and intergroup conflicts such as civil war or war rise by 14%. The 1 standard deviation shift is equivalent to warming an African nation by only less than 0.5°C, annually, or warming the U.S. by 2°C for a given month. An average of 2-4 standard deviation shifts is projected by 2050; predicting an increase of around 3°C over the next decades. According to the Princeton-Berkeley findings, this suggests an increase in civil war risk by over 50%. Regardless of historical, geographical, socioeconomic, or political factors, Climate Change impacts all levels of society: Institutional, Inter-group, and Interpersonal. The results touch on every world region and apply to periods of warming and cooling. The collapse of the Mayans and dynastic transitions in ancient China were preceded by drought and extreme weather. Nile Floods significantly contributed to political instability in Egypt for over 8 centuries. While, the conflict spread rapidly across Europe during the Little Ice Age, which started around 1550.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa Climate Conflict: Droughts and Famines

Algeria

Algeria faces serious climate change threats, desertification, and rapid water and food insecurity. The effects mark heavily on the north, where the population and arable land are concentrated. Only 3% of the land is arable, leading Algeria to import nearly 50% of its food consumption and over half its grain. Algeria suffered a civil war in 1992, with over 150,000 casualties. Nonetheless, the country is pursuing a sustainable peaceful transition towards democracy; yet, amidst socioeconomic turmoil, armed insurgencies are still active.

Chad

A drought, stemming from rising greenhouse gases, struck in the 20th century causing Lake Chad, the 6th largest lake in the world then, to lose 90% of its water by the 1960s, leaving 10 million people in dire dependency on humanitarian aid. The Lake was a life source for Chad, and its neighbors, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. However, as the lake shrank, its beneficiaries were forced to migrate towards its remains and occupied a much smaller area. As climate change altered socio dynamics, 30 million began competing for access to Lake Chad; thus, conflict erupted between former friendly neighbors. Additionally, since its inception in 2009, Boko Haram has caused nearly 50,000 casualties and forcibly displaced nearly 2.5 million people around the Lake Chad Basin.

Central African republic

Vicious floods in 2019 forcibly displaced nearly 100,000 people and destructed over 10,000 houses, demonstrating CAR’s vulnerability and lack of resilience to adapt. Moreover, desertification in the Sahel, conflict, and insecurity have severely hampered agricultural activities and food security in CAR, while over 70% of the population depends on farming and herding for survival.

 

 

 

 

Sudan

A famine struck Darfur, in 1984, as rainfall decreased and fertile land became dry resulting in nearly 100,000 casualties. Triggering large-scale migration, driven by resource scarcity, the pastoralists migrated into more arable lands; thus, sparking ethnic tensions. Arms smuggling and continued economic struggles and inequalities have pushed the conflict into the 21st Century, which was met by a violent government response. Civilian areas in West Darfur, have been heavily bombed; as, metal shrapnel boxes were dropped from low altitudes to annihilate villages. By 2003, the conflict left nearly 400,000 dead and over 2 million forcibly displaced. In 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deemed it as the world’s first climate change conflict. Temperatures’ increase caused rain variation, leading to climate change producing desertification and food and water insecurities.. Food insecurity and sociopolitical tensions paired with Climate change increased competition for scarce resources. In 2014, bombing campaigns, to clear settled rural communities, were witnessed from the camps in Chad; deterring refugees from the right of return.

The Horn of Africa

Accommodating Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, and Somalia, the Horn of Africa witnessed a drought that affected nearly 15 million people, causing forced migration, ethnic conflicts, and terrorism. In the dry area of Tigray, Ethiopia the drought altered its sociopolitical dynamic and hindered economic activity. Accordingly, a window of opportunity was presented to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), set up in 1975, to acquire popularity in rural areas. Moreover, the 2020 Tigray War exerted further pressure on the 100,000 Eritrean refugees of the region who already hosts over and suffers the drought, its communities have become more vulnerable and less resilient to adaptation. The aftermath of the conflict stretches to Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia.

Peacekeeping troops, the key to stopping Al Shabaab’s advance, were pulled out of Somalia, contributing to forced migration into contested space and ethnic tribal conflicts over water. Over 2.5 million Somalis have been forcibly displaced, while many are at dire risk of starvation. “These camps have become hotspots for criminal activities such as human trafficking and child exploitation, and a recruitment ground for Al Shabaab.” In addition, Climate Change in the Middle East has led to the incubation of mass locust breeding, leading to locust outbreaks swarming across the Horn of Africa.

Sahel

In the Sahel, Climate Change has also caused the erosion of fertile land, which damaged production and changed grazing patterns. Since 2012, the armed conflict has disrupted Mali, causing death, displacement, and economic failure. Furthermore, Mali is becoming warmer, while the Sahara Desert, 2/3 of the country, is stretching further into the country. Climate variations such as rain, droughts, floods, and desertification are increasing, affecting migration routes of herds, and driving their herders into contested natural resource areas. In 2019, land became scarce, due to floods, and Pastoralists traveling with their herds feared armed groups’ attacks. They moved towards water areas, sparking disputes with fishermen and farmers. As animals withered, Pastoralists were forced to sell them at lower prices; as the conflict was an anchored obstacle obstructing their path to livestock markets. Herders who failed to sell, watched their livestock wither while struggling to feed their families. Violence also isolated state officials and limited humanitarian access.

Neighboring States across the Sahel are also suffering, including Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania, from the fusion of climate conflict and socioeconomic insecurities. Damaging over 70% of the Sahel lands, significantly reducing the food supply. Over 30 million of the Sahel’s inhabitants are in dire need of aid and security. While, the Sahel population is expected to double, nearing 200 million by 2050.

 

 

 

 

 

Yemen

Yemen deemed ‘Arabia Felix’ by the Romans, is the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis today; according to the UN. Droughts, Famines, and Water Outbreaks struck with no capacity for resilience, mitigation, or adaptation. Near 25 million are deprived of clean water, amidst food insecurity and famine with 15 million in starvation, and the fastest cholera outbreak in history with over 2 million cases. 5 years of civil war, KSA-led bombing missions, assisted by the UK and U.S. and a Saudi food and aid blockade also destroyed infrastructure and resilience against climate shocks.

 

Bangladesh

Bangladesh has a growing population while lacking land, and climate resilience. Over half the country is situated close to sea level, and is heavily flooded by the rain. The Indian Farakka Barrage, built in 1975, has further aggravated the situation, increasing India’s water flow, while reducing Bangladesh’s. This nature distortion leads to:

  • saltwater entry into Bangladeshi freshwater;
  • the decline in the fish population;
  • droughts, affecting land productivity;
  • Coastal erosion, as the land area was lost to the sea due to decreased river flow;
  • Floods and cyclones

These implications have affected nearly 40 million people, producing poverty, land inequality, migrations, and failed inheritance systems that fragmented land into smaller fractions among family members. By the 1950s, over 15 million migrated to India, for higher living standards and lower population densities. While, over half a million have internally migrated in Bangladesh to the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), clearing trees to farm, causing soil erosion and unsustainable ecosystems. Conflict erupted, as immigrants worsened the economy, land distribution, and the balance of power.

Pakistan

Karachi, is Pakistan’s largest city, and a prominent financial hub, with a population near 20 million. Hindered by political unrest and conflict, the city is situated near the coast only 8 meters above sea level, and fears serious threats of rising sea levels by 2050. With fragile governance and ​infrastructure hampering its ability to ensure basic services for its growing population; where under 20% only benefit from piped sewage. Floods ravage its streets, diseases are rapidly spread by the lack of water and sanitation, and the city suffers food and security threats. Karachi’s socioeconomic dynamics qualify it as a breeding ground for militias, blending in the increasingly unregulated schools.

Iraq

Entering the 2000s, as the 2nd Biggest Arab Economy, and the 4th Largest global Army; yet administratively fragile. Iraq was shattered by 2 Gulf Wars and the 2003 U.S. invasion. Obliterating its resilience, mitigation, and adaptation capacities amidst increasing climate conflict risks; thus, depending on water diplomacy with its neighbors – Turkey, Iran, and Kurdistan. As, dams, high temperatures, and dwindling rain have reduced water with its imports projected to decline by 2025. Iraq suffers from weak capacity shaped by inefficient resource management, desertification, and ancient sewage and irrigation systems. Modernization attempts such as drip irrigation have failed, despite that Agriculture consumes the largest share of water, while a growing population pressurizes resources. Agriculture only contributes to over 5% of GDP, although the economy was once based exclusively on it, prior to Oil discovery, comprising over 30% of GDP.

Access to clean water is unsustainable, insufficient, and of poor quality, with high salt and contamination levels; deliberately undertaken to weaken a rebellious population. In Fao, water and farming difficulties stem from cutting date palms for military reasons amidst the Gulf war, with fertile land diminishing from 10,000 to 1,000 acres. “Before Rain was falling, now Dust is falling. The land is becoming desert. There are more snakes. We lost our animals and land, and we became poor. When I was a boy and walked this land, it was green, with a lot of water. Now, only tensions.”

 

 

 

 

Climate Conflict Facts and Figures

  1. 14 of the 25 most vulnerable countries to climate change are in conflict

– The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-Gain) Index measures resilience to climate. Yemen, Mali, Congo, in conflict, are the lowest ranked.

  1. Climate causes conflict by hindering socioeconomic & environmental factors

e.g. People are forced to share scarce resources due to climate change; thus, igniting tensions in the absence of sound governance and inclusive institutions.

 

  1. World leaders may attribute insecurities to Climate Change

– Al-Bashir attributed the drought to the Darfur conflict rather than his political violence. Similarly, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe blames climate change for the famine, rather than his own corrupt land distribution policies.

  1. Adapting to climate change is complex

– Adapting to climate requires social, cultural or economic changes. But, in conflict, institutions are weak, and preoccupied with security priorities.

  1. Conflict causes Climate Change and vice versa

– Conflict leads to water contamination and soil erosion, releases pollutants into the environment, and harms wildlife.

  1. International humanitarian law (IHL) condemns harmful climate action

– By 1977, states committed to long-term environmental protection through Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.

  1. Humanitarian gaps in Climate Finance

– The climate is worsening humanitarian crises, while organizations struggle to respond. People in conflict are among the most vulnerable to climate change, but there is a gap in funding for climate action. A greater share of climate finance needs to be allocated to the places most affected by conflict.

46 countries – home to 2.7 billion people – are at high risk of climate conflict, while 56 countries – home to 1.2 billion people – are at high risk of climate-driven political instability (see Annex). Most of the conflict-threatened states, are currently or have recently engaged in violent conflict. Accordingly, reducing carbon emissions or mitigation measures solely won’t suffice. States are required to invest in resilience, adaptation, and good governance of their institutions as well.

 

Case Studies: Climate Cooperation Africa-Asia-Latin America

Despite the fact that only 10 countries contribute to nearly 70% of emissions; yet, the consequences touch on nearly every region in the world. As Greenhouse Gases (GHG) randomly mix in the atmosphere, so climate change does not correspond to gas emissions from a certain territory. Africa produces less than 2% of emissions but bares the most severe consequences of climate change through conflict. According to Dr. Jürgen Scheffran, Climate Change and Security professor at Hamburg University, “If climate change is not stopped, we are looking at increased droughts in Africa and the Mediterranean and food insecurity in South Asia”.

Accordingly, collective responsibility and cooperation of all countries are crucial. While, numerous Climate Change frameworks, conferences, and events have been unveiled; yet, they have only produced empty promises and no action. Thus, it’s crucial to initiate an international cooperation action plan to hinder climate implications.

The 1992 UNFCCC (see below) is the primary global framework for climate cooperation; later updated by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement.

By 1997 the Senate passed a resolution, prior to the Kyoto summit, preventing the U.S. from signing any agreement that commits to GHG emissions limitations for developed countries only. Therefore, Clinton failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol from the Senate. While his successor, George W. Bush deemed the protocol “fatally flawed” and supported the 1997 Senate resolution.

 

International Frameworks

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):

The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio. The UNFCCC engages annually in international dialogue on climate policy and funding. The 2nd Article stipulates its overarching mandate to limit greenhouse gas levels.

 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

It is the most credible global source of quantitative assessments; feeding UNFCCC operations and constituting its scientific base.

UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR):

The ISDR promotes sustainable disaster reduction awareness at the national, regional, and international levels to enhance disaster-resilient capacities.

East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF)

Established in 2019, in Cairo, as a regional Mediterranean gas hub trade relations. The forum comprises Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, and Israel.

Global Environment Facility (GEF):

Established in 1991, it mobilizes multilateral funding for climate change. While most climate finance has been for mitigation, the GEF has set up 4 Adaptation funds:

  1. The Least Developed Countries Fund: LDC countries solely, excluding middle-income states that are vulnerable to climate-driven political instability or conflict.
  2. The Special Climate Change Fund: Mobilized for technology transfer on adaptation in developing countries.

III. The Strategic Priority on Adaptation: Dedicated to adaptation capacity-building measures.

  1. Adaptation Fund: Funds actual adaptation policies and measures in developing countries.

The Climate Change Cooperation Index (C3-I) captures overall performance, political behavior (output), and emissions (outcome) through a systematic comparison of countries’ climate policies.

 

Climate Cooperation: Developed vs Developing Nations

It is unjust to restrict the economic growth of developing countries for climate change mitigation; the standard of living is prioritized over climate. At the 2008 Toyoko G8 summit, the Indian Prime Minister declared that developing countries should not adopt quantitative emission restrictions unless conditioned by notable reductions in developed countries. Nonetheless, developed and developing nations have accelerated cooperation and mitigation efforts, notably 6 emerging economies: Egypt, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa.

Egypt

Emerging into the 1990s with a heavy debt burden, low development, and high subsidies; Egypt was forced to adopt the IMF’s 1991 Economic Reform and Structural Adjustment Programme (ERSAP). Today, Egypt boasts the region’s largest consumer market; moreover, energy share comprises over 13% of the GDP. The city of Ras Gharib is the optimal spot worldwide for windmills. Egypt aims through its Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy (ISES 2035) to increase a local content target of 70% for overall wind farm requirements, and increase renewable energy contribution to power capacity to 42% by 2035.

Brazil

Plans to reduce its emissions by 50% by 2050. Furthermore, the Government of Brazil is working with GIZ on the mitigation of Climate Change. While engaging in Dialogues on Sustainability and Climate Change and Environment Cooperation Protocols with the U.S. Yet, there are still further areas of regional and global cooperation that require action.

China

China and India are the world’s most populous nations. China reduced emissions in the past 50 years by over 250 million tons of carbon per year through population control, fuel efficiency, and energy alternatives. Yet, further economic and energy-efficient reforms could contribute to reducing emissions by 500 million tons a year.

India

Carbon emissions were reduced by 18 million tons through economic reform, environmental law, and sustainable energy programs. Near 150 million tons of additional cuts could be achieved at a cost ranging from $0-10 per ton. Areas of reform also include improved energy efficiency, afforestation, and power transmission.

Mexico

The first big oil producer to join the Kyoto Protocol, Mexico’s high emissions are directly attributed to high population, economic development, fuel demand, and altering terrain utility. Accordingly, Mexico has begun to reduce deforestation rates, and switch to renewable and preserved energy, while emission cuts are nearing 50%.

South Africa

Africa’s largest emission producer; emerging from its Apartheid with over 30% of households unconnected to a power grid, South Africa was challenged with emission cuts. Yet, economic reforms and energy efficiency have contributed to alleviating South Africa’s Power Sector. However, the absence of data-driven policies on future energy trends and reforms remains an obstacle to future emissions mitigation.

 

Developing Nations

Liberia witnessed violent conflict and tyranny from 1980 – 2003. The causes of conflict stem from historical inequalities through unequal power distribution and violent acquisitions of wealth and power. Half the population lives in the capital, Monrovia, while many cities are isolated and lack basic road access. Politicians neglect those regions; where development occurs in Monrovia solely. In October 2005, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became the 1st African female President. Yet, inherited a heavy debt burden, an influx of returning refugees, and land disputes. Given the capital-rural inequalities, communication was vital. International Alert worked on communication and participation. Seeking to enable marginalized groups to resort to Media to project their views and rights rather than violence. They also train journalists on responsible reporting and improve access to knowledge through the community radio in Liberia’s 8 most conflict-affected counties.

Liberian NGOs have organized 3 Peace and Culture Festivals, accommodating performers and local communities, from Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Utilizing culture, comedy, drama, and music to gather over 10,000 people and heal divisions created by conflict. Reminding that, while Liberia and its neighbors have differing cultures, they share core values, communication, and a strong community. The Liberia Media Project is a regional sustainable peace strategy using traditional and contemporary communication for peacebuilding and reconciliation.

Botswana set up national government programs to re-create jobs after the drought. Encompassing efforts with national authorities and aiding small-scale farmers to increase their crop productivity.

In Mali, women comprise 40% of farm labor but fewer than 10% are landowners. They rely on selling small-scale crops and livestock in local markets, which are vulnerable to climate conflict. The potential of income-raising is challenging as access to goods markets has been restricted by conflict. However, Mali women are cooperating instead of conflicting over resources facilitated by female-led agricultural NGOs and initiatives.

Philippines’ responses for increasing sea levels and storms included strengthening risk and disaster management, grants to enhance coastal and infrastructural resilience, storm-resistant housing installation; review of building codes, and mangroves reforestation.

Mexico and Argentina adapted to high flooding risks through crop variations, replacing dates with drought-resistant plants. Including changes in overall management systems: farms have diversified their assets by introducing livestock and have separated crops and grazing areas to diversify exposure; unveiling alternatives for existing mechanisms including domestic financial pools and crop insurance.

Nepal emerged from a decade-long 1996 civil war, driven by poverty, inequality, tyranny, and corruption. A 1990 political democracy attempt and economic development failed; thus, the Maoist Communist Party sparked conflict in rural areas, given unequal resources and services distribution. Nepal is of the world’s poorest economies with over 85% of the population depending on agriculture and fragile ecosystems in mountainous terrain where only 20% of the land is arable, and many lack ownership to their lands.

 

The Road to COP 27: Sharm El Sheikh

The UK organized COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, aiming to reach Net 0 carbon emissions and abide by the Paris Agreement target of a 1.5°C rise. The U.S. and China, the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide, pledged to collectively tackle climate change, including protecting forests and phasing out coal and methane. But China refused to join an agreement, signed by over 100 countries, to limit methane. Yet, pledged a “national plan” to address methane, but has been reluctant to tackle its domestic coal emissions. Moreover, at the COP26 climate summit:

– A draft of a final COP26 deal was announced, urging carbon cuts by 2022, and aid for vulnerable nations – but has been criticized for lacking ambition.

– Boris Johnson urged national leaders to give their negotiators more leverage and asserted the ambition of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5°C

– Many nations agreed to phase out petrol and diesel cars but the US, China, and Germany refused. Yet, Ford and Mercedes have pledged commitments.

Biden criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping for not attending COP26, while China is the world’s largest emitter of CO2, followed by the US. At the U.N. General Assembly last September, Jinping announced that China will achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, targeting peak emissions by 2030. The US is aiming for net zero by 2050.

Egypt was selected as the host of the upcoming COP27 at Sharm El Sheikh in 2022. EMGF Member States agreed to develop climate initiatives ahead of COP27. In their 6th Ministerial Meeting in Cairo, held on the 25th of November 2021, the ministers committed to engaging governments and the private sector to finance carbon neutrality and emission reduction technologies. A meeting 3 days later, hosted by France, U.S., EU Italy, and World Bank officials, approved the 2022 action plan and appointed Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum Undersecretary Osama Mobarez as secretary general for a 3-year term starting 2022. The following ministerial meeting would be held in Cairo next June. Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation (MOIC) has unveiled its Official Development Assistance ODA-SDG map, which includes the current portfolio of development cooperation that comprises 377 projects worth $25.6 billion. Clean energy holds the biggest share of ODA with $5.9 Billion in funding which accounts for 23.2% of the current portfolio of MOIC, followed by Industry and Clean Water with $5.7 Billion and $4.9 Billion in investments respectively. accounts for 23.2% of the current portfolio of MOIC, followed by Industry and Clean Water with $5.7 Billion and $4.9 Billion investments respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Policy responses of the Egyptian government to combat the challenges of climate change

Climate change is a decisive issue in our era, as its global impact is unprecedented as regards the change of weather which threatens food production, in addition to the rise of sea levels leading to the danger of floods. Adaptation to such changes will be more difficult and costly in the future if radical changes are not taken soon.

Egypt has taken firm steps towards incorporating a solid approach since 2015, to combat the effects of climate change on its environment in line with its 2030 national strategy for sustainable development. The climate change dimension has been integrated into a larger number of ministries to become one of the pillars of their strategic planning, in addition to working with development partners to attract climate finance in many fields Over the past years, Egypt has also searched for the best ways to adapt to the effects of climate change, especially with the increase in extreme weather events.

 

1-Egypt’s Contributions to the Climate-related Conferences

  1. A) 2019 UN Climate Action Summit”

 

The “United Nations Climate Summit 2019”, which was held in New York on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations meetings in September 2019, highlighted the dangers of global warming, noting that greenhouse gas emissions have reached record levels and show no sign of stopping. The Summit has confirmed that the last four years have been hotter, and the temperatures in the Arctic winter have increased by 3°C since 1990, which caused sea levels to rise and resulted in the death of coral reefs. It was also noted that there is a terrifying impact of climate change on the health and life on the planet. The report of the 2019 Climate Action Summit made it clear that the impact of climate change is felt everywhere and have real consequences for people’s lives. There is also a growing recognition that possible solutions which will enable everyone to move onto cleaner and more resilient economies now exist.

 

  1. B) Egypt’s participation in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26)

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi heads to Britain to participate in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) for the heads of state and government that took place on the 1st and 2nd of November in Glasgow.

President El-Sisi’s participation in the climate summit fulfills the invitation of British Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, whose country is the president of the current summit. This is in light of the significant role that Egypt plays both regionally and internationally within the framework of climate change negotiations. The President focused during the conference on topics of interest to developing countries, in general, and African countries, in particular, notably with regard to enhancing efforts toward strengthening international climate action. This is in addition to underscoring the importance of the industrial countries’ commitment to their pledges within the framework of the Paris Agreement, as well as stressing Egypt’s willingness to host the coming climate change summit in 2022.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad headed to Glasgow, UK, to participate in the high-level presidential segment of the COP26. Fouad explained that the COP26 climate conference is an important step to finalizing the controversial issues to reach an action plan to achieve the desired goals in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The conference also aims to discuss topics related to mitigation, the global goal of adaptation, and the goal of climate finance Explaining the importance of the event and what it means to the host country, Samir Tantawi, Climate Change Senior Consultant and project manager of Egypt’s Fourth National Communication for UNFCCC, said that the COP is considered the largest and most important international event that the world witnesses every year.

In Early October, Egypt was announced as a selected country to host the upcoming COP27 in 2022. The environment-friendly city of Sharm El-Sheikh is due to host the conference.

 

Egypt’s Road to COP 27 and the Steps It Has Taken to Transition to a Green Economy

 

Egypt is taking rapid steps to meet the demands of environmental integrity, climate conservation, and the transition to a green economy. This is in light of increasing the dangers that threaten the Earth and the efforts of States to work together to face them. Egypt’s active participation in the UN Climate Change Conference “COP 26,” in Glasgow, Scotland, in October 2021, demonstrated the state’s full awareness of this issue and its strategic direction for environmental conservation. This is done through launching the Egyptian Climate Change Strategy 2050 as well as moving towards a green economy and environment-friendly enterprises as one of the targets of Egypt’s Vision 2030. Egypt begins the preparations to host the Climate Conference at its next session, “COP 27,” in Cairo, by adopting many policies and programs that can be supportive and sustainable for the environment in various sectors.

 

2)Egypt’s National Climate Change Strategy 2050 targets five main goals

Egypt’s National Climate Change Strategy 2050 – launched on the sidelines of the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow – targeted five main objectives

The first goal aims at magnifying energy efficiency by improving the efficiency of thermal energy stations, distribution networks and activities related to oil and natural gas. This goal is also meant to get consumers to depend on cleaner energy, like transportation operating by electricity or natural gas, Egyptian Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said. This goal is also meant to improve energy efficiency in buildings and apply the national code of green buildings. The second goal is meant to build resilience, promote adaptation to climate change and alleviate the negative impact of climate change, through protecting citizens from the negative health impact of climate change, promoting the health sector to be able to confront diseases caused by climate change and preparing studies and training health sector workers.

This goal is also meant to protect natural resources and ecological systems from climate change, improve adaptation capabilities and promote adaptation methods based on linking efforts to confront biodiversity loss, climate change, land degradation, deforestation, and developing unusual water resources. These goals are meant to maintain agricultural lands and improve crop management systems in addition to protecting fish wealth, maintaining historical and cultural heritage from the negative impact of climate change, and selecting new locations for development communities away from areas most hit by climate change impact. The second goal also focuses on infrastructure and flexible services for confronting the negative impact of climate change, including all-out management of coastal areas, implementing flood protection systems, as well as improving sanitation and water service systems, irrigation systems, and roads to be more flexible in the face of the fallout of climate change. This goal also focuses on establishing an early warning system. The third goal aims at improving good governance and business management in the fields of climate change, advancing Egypt’s international position with regard to luring more foreign investments and climate change financing opportunities. The fourth goal aims at improving the infrastructure for financing climate activities, especially through promoting green banking activities at the local level, green credit lines and innovative financing strategies that give priority to adaptation measures such as green bonds, the private sector’s participation in financing climate action and promoting green jobs, Fouad said. The fifth goal focuses on enhancing scientific research, knowledge management, transferring technology, and spreading awareness about climate change, especially among policymakers, citizens, and students. The strategy will enable Egypt to plan for facing and managing climate change at different levels, besides enhancing efforts to achieve sustainable development goals in line with Egypt Vision 2030.

 

 

 

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