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How climate change affects peace

The effects of climate change pose a major challenge to peacefulness in the coming decade.

The impacts of fluctuating climate conditions on societal stability and its potential to lead to violent conflict is of growing importance. Although long-term quantitative data on the interactions of climate and peace is scarce, what is available suggests that climate has played a role in triggering or exacerbating conflict through its effects on livelihood security and resource availability.

The effects of climate shocks on factors such as resource scarcity, livelihood security and displacement can greatly increase the risk of future violent conflict, even when climate change does not directly cause conflict.

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Among countries with a high risk of extreme climate hazards, high peace countries tend to demonstrate stronger coping capacities than low peace countries with similar risk levels.

An estimated 971 million people live in areas with high or very high exposure to climate hazards, putting them at risk for both extreme weather events and breakdowns in peacefulness in the coming decades. Of this number, 41 per cent reside in countries with low levels of peacefulness, while 22 per cent are in countries with high levels of peace.

The Asia-Pacific and South Asia regions collectively house twice as many people in high exposure climate zones as all other regions combined. A risk assessment carried out by the Index for Risk Management in 2019 found that South Asia, Asia-Pacific and Central America and the Caribbean have weaker coping capacities and higher risk to natural hazards as compared to other regions.

For the complete analysis, download the Global Peace Index.