Climate Change and Conflict: What are the links and where is the evidence?


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Senior Fellow
  • William Wrigley Professor of Earth System Science
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Senior Fellow and Founding Director, Center on Food Security and the Environment
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  • Gloria and Richard Kushel Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment
  • Professor, Earth System Science
  • William Wrigley Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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PhD Student

Despite recent high-level statements suggesting that climate change could worsen the risk of civil conflict, until now we had little quantitative evidence linking the two. Unfortunately, our study finds that climate change could increase the risk of African civil war by over 50 percent in 2030 relative to 1990, with huge potential costs to human livelihoods. - David Lobell

This project stems from the collaborations and faculty seminars developed as part of a larger grant funded by the Presidential Fund for Innovation in International Studies, Feeding the World in the 21st Century. The project will examine the connections between climate change and variability and violent conflict through interdisciplinary empirical research that builds on Stanford's particular strengths in climate science, food security, demographics and conflict studies. The research results will be used to develop a course for graduate students in International Policy Studies and the Public Policy program. This new course offering would help students to develop the analytical tools to understand existing climate models, their accompanying uncertainty, and the potential impacts climate change might have on migration, economic stress, health, and links to conflict. It would additionally challenge them to develop appropriate policy responses that address the ethical issues at stake. An underlying aim of the project will be to make a substantive contribution to understanding climate change and variability, and its attendant impacts on already fragile states; thus making a significant contribution to advancing knowledge in hte field and the related critical policy debate.