What’s on : Lectures

Climate Change and the Risk of Conflict

9 Feb 2016
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Prof.Paul Rogers

Event Information

Climate Change and the Risk of Conflict

A lecture by Professor Paul Rogers, Bradford University

Although COP21 in Paris gave a new focus to the issue of climate disruption and resulted in tentative agreements on carbon emissions control, key elements of it are voluntary and it does not even enter into force for five years.   As a result, unless there is a transformation in political attitudes it is well-nigh certain that there will be substantial climate disruption in the next three decades.  The implications for international security are considerable and one of the worst risks is that climate disruption will be seen as one more “threat” to be handled by traditional means rather than a marker to encourage a more rapid move towards an ultra-low carbon society.  Whether this can be avoided is a key issue and will have huge implications for whether we really can make the transition to a more emancipated, equitable and sustainable global system.

Member’s report

The nature of climate change is now well established and its future trajectory predicted in some detail. We know what is going to happen to our climate unless major action is taken, and soon, to head off potentially catastrophic change. But while climate change itself may be well understood, social and economic implications are not. Climate change is likely to increase the risks of conflict, particularly in countries with already fragile governance and economy.

Weak and failing states pose security risks to their neighbours, and more widely, but focussing on the security risks may make it more difficult for the international community to tackle underlying causes. Even measures taken to reduce climate change can have repercussions. The radical reduction of carbon emissions is crucial, but how would this impact the economies and stability of oil-producing countries in the Middle East, and North and West Africa?

Concerted international action is vital. The signs are not good. But when depletion of the ozone layer was discovered, it took only (!) a few years for effective international action to be agreed and implemented – even if the damage will take decades to repair. Despite the very limited achievement of the recent Paris talks, Professor Rogers remains an optimist.

Peter Hogarth