Climate change could lead to more wars

There are increasing warnings that a war due to climate change is imminent. Countries that take initiatives to combat climate change also make war plans for the same reason.

From the Paris Climate Agreement to the Climate Summit held in Glasgow, many international studies are carried out on the fight against global climate change. Military strategists, on the other hand, draw attention to a war that will be caused by the effects of climate change. Analysts also argue that the military tensions in recent years are due to climate change and that a possible war will break out in Asia, Africa and the Arctic.

A report by the American think tank Atlantic Council stated that Russia and China are looking for a new shipping route around Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic Circle, which could create a new power rivalry in the region.

The United Kingdom and the United States also increased their military and navy presence due to the increase in Russian and Chinese activities in the region. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, an American aircraft carrier has been sent to the Arctic.


Matthew Rendall, Lecturer at the University of Nottingham, who works in climate change and international relations, said places without stability such as Syria and Somalia are more likely to become possible sites for climate wars.

Regions with already high temperatures are more likely to experience acute resource shortages, mass refugee migration and political instability.

Pointing out that China and Russia have nuclear weapons, Rendall said, “They may clash over the North Pole. But this is unlikely to return to the Third World War. That would be very costly.”

There are indications that violence in Somalia is linked to climate change, according to an article published by the political risk analysis firm Global Risk Insights. Millions of Somalis have faced food shortages since the 2011 East African drought, due to nearly continuous dry periods.

The article noted that jihadists are taking advantage of climate-related loss of livelihood and food shortages, and that as climatic conditions deteriorate, they can recruit people with the offer to meet vital needs such as food and protection.

The Pentagon made the same assessment as Global Insights, without naming the organization. The U.S. Department of Defense states that “As the climate changes, changes can be made to local and regional policies to reduce food and water shortages. These political arrangements could lead to an increase in physical and cyber terrorist attacks from unknown third parties."

In 2015, a research team led by Columbia University's Colin P. Kelley published a study that concluded that the decade-long civil war in Syria was exacerbated by climate change-related heatwaves, drought, and debates over resources.

What happens when less land remains due to rising sea levels also needs to be looked at. Shafqat Munir, Head of Bangladesh Center for Terrorism Studies, reminded that his country is expected to rapidly lose about 14 percent of its total land mass. Commenting on the situation in terms of terrorism and conflict, Munir said, "As you can imagine, this will be a huge disaster."


"America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as an immediate national security threat," said John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate. These statements of Kerry showed that climate change is being evaluated as a "national security" threat.

Military strategies to tackle climate problems focus on adapting to new challenges rather than drastically reducing their carbon footprints. The Pentagon's climate change plan talks about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but 'reduction' ranks third after 'adaptation' and 'resilience' in the plan.

According to a 2019 report from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, the Department of Defense consumes 80 percent of U.S. energy. The same report also notes that the U.S. military's 2017 greenhouse gas emissions (about 59 million metric tons) exceeded all of Sweden.

If countries, which are the main causes of global warming, prioritize national security instead of reducing emissions, the probability of wars arising from climate change will increase gradually.