The conflict potential of climate mitigation and adaptation

As countries and communities take steps to mitigate climate change, they must also assess the possibility that their mitigation and adaptation efforts might cause new security problems.


To avoid this, they must formulate climate policies that reduce the risk of conflict and increase the prospects of peace. Discussion of climate change policy thus far has focused on what climate change impacts will look like - globally and regionally, and how we can prevent impacts from becoming severe through emissions cuts (mitigation) and seek to prepare for impacts we cannot avoid (adaptation). "We haven't yet started seriously assessing the associated security risks and conflict potential that may arise from adopting and implementing mitigation and adaptation plans", said Alexander Carius, Managing Director and co-founder of adelphi, at the recent roundtable discussion "Backdraft: The Conflict Potential of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation" on June 10 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He exemplified this on the basis of the UN´s "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program" (REDD), which raises "serious questions about governance, treatment of local communities, and resource access that must be resolved to avoid the risk of conflict."

Carius was joined by Cleo Paskal of Chatham House, Stacy VanDeveer of the University of New Hampshire, and Geoff Dabelko of ECSP to discuss the unintended security consequences of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

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