Discussions on energy and geopolitics over the last ten years have often focused on the need for energy security. Now, another challenge is emerging: Climate security – mitigating and managing the geopolitical implications of climate change – deserves attention alongside existing energy security discussions.
Climate change has become a threat multiplier that is exacerbating existing conflicts and has the potential to cause new conflicts around the world, ones with dire geopolitical implications. Key issues of our time, including cross-border migration, conflicts over water, and competition over territories due to melting ice, for instance, are more deeply intertwined with climate change than previously assumed.
Climate change-induced droughts such as the ones in Uganda’s Northern Corridor and Kenya’s rift valley are contributing to water insecurity and leading to escalating regional rivalries vying for control over water flows that can often be a deciding factor in determining whether a region will flourish or decline. The changing climate is also fueling inter-state competition between major powers over new seaways and land masses laid bare by ice melting at the poles.
As communities around the globe, especially those in poorer regions, are suffering increasingly from the negative impacts of climate change, the importance of climate adaptation is becoming more obvious. How do states respond collectively to climate mitigation in a world that is deeply divided on climate action? Is there potential for a conflict mitigation dividend? At what level do we engage vulnerable communities at risk and how can they best cope with the negative impacts of climate change? And what role can technology – and importantly the sharing of these technologies – play in making real progress towards curving the harmful impacts of climate change that drive tensions and conflicts?