Security implications of climate change: A decade of scientific progress

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

von Uexkull, Nina & Halvard Buhaug (2021) Security implications of climate change: A decade of scientific progress, Journal of Peace Research 58(1): 3–17.

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The study of security implications of climate change has developed rapidly from a nascent area of academic inquiry into an important and thriving research field that traverses epistemological and disciplinary boundaries. Here, we take stock of scientific progress by benchmarking the latest decade of empirical research against seven core research priorities collectively emphasized in 35 recent literature reviews. On the basis of this evaluation, we discuss key contributions of this special issue. Overall, we find that the research community has made important strides in specifying and evaluating plausible indirect causal pathways between climatic conditions and a wide set of conflict-related outcomes and the scope conditions that shape this relationship. Contributions to this special issue push the research frontier further along these lines. Jointly, they demonstrate significant climate impacts on social unrest in urban settings; they point to the complexity of the climate–migration–unrest link; they identify how agricultural production patterns shape conflict risk; they investigate understudied outcomes in relation to climate change, such as interstate claims and individual trust; and they discuss the relevance of this research for user groups across academia and beyond. We find that the long-term implications of gradual climate change and conflict potential of policy responses are important remaining research gaps that should guide future research.

​The article is accessible for free through the journal's web page.

New special issue on climate change and conflict

The Journal of Peace Research has just published a new special issue on ‘Security implications of climate change’ (January 2021), guest edited by Nina von Uexkull and Halvard Buhaug. The special issue contains 12 original research articles and viewpoint essays, supplemented by an introductory article by the guest editors that presents a review the state of the art. This is the second time JPR dedicates a special issue to climate change and conflict; the first time was in 2012, edited by Nils Petter Gleditsch. The new issue represents the most up-to-date collection of studies on the subject. Several articles, including the introduction, are available as open access.

Read the special issue here.

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