Department of Peace and Conflict Research

Will Climate Change Lead to More Wars?

  • Date: –14:30
  • Location: Blåsenhus Gunnar Johansson-salen
  • Lecturer: Halvard Buhaug, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Professor of Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  • Organiser: The Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University with support from Uppsala Forum
  • Contact person: Nina von Uexkull
  • Föreläsning

You are kindly invited to attend a Uppsala Forum Guest Lecture with visiting fellow Halvard Buhaug, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Professor of Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Lecture title is “Will Climate Change Lead to More Wars?”

Is global warming a major security threat? The current European migrant crisis, coupled with claims that the Syrian civil war is partly a result of a devastating drought, has accentuated fears that climate change will bring about more conflict and instability in the future. The notion that environmental degradation can trigger violent competition is far from new, but what can science tell us about contemporary events and future developments?

This talk will reflect on some ways in which climatic changes could constitute a threat to peace and stability. Rather than assuming a direct causal link, it will argue that climate change may exert an indirect effect on conflict risk, but only under specific conditions, thereby increasing the security gap between affluent Western societies and fragile societies in the Global South. This sobering scenario notwithstanding, the reverse association – from armed conflict to environmental vulnerability – is likely much more powerful and has greater policy implications. While climate adaptation and mitigation measures are unlikely to be the most efficient strategy to end conflicts and wars, successful conflict resolution is a fundamental requisite for improving climate resilience in unstable corners of the world.

Halvard Buhaug is Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO); Professor of Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); and Associate Editor of Journal of Peace Research and Political Geography. He leads and has directed a number of research projects on security dimensions of climate change, funded by the European Commission, the US Department of Defense, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Bank, and the Research Council of Norway. Recent publications include the co-authored book Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War (Cambridge University Press 2013) and journal articles in, inter alia, Environmental Research Letters, Global Environmental ChangeInternational SecurityJournal of Conflict Resolution, and PNAS. He is the recipient of the International Studies Association’s (ISA) Karl Deutsch Award, holder of an ERC Consolidator Grant, and serves as one of the Lead Authors of the forthcoming IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.