(This is the Introduction to a new report ‘Backdraft: The Conflict Potential of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation’)
Amid the growing number of reports warning that climate change could threaten national security, another potentially dangerous—but counter-intuitive—dimension has been largely ignored. Could efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and lower our vulnerability to climate change inadvertently exacerbate existing conflicts— or create new ones?
If designed or implemented without consideration for conflict potential, unforeseen negative spill-over effects might damage economic development prospects, undermine political stability, or fray the social fabric of communities. How can policymakers anticipate and minimize these potential risks? More ambitiously, can mitigation and adaptation efforts be designed to not only avoid conflict, but also help build peace?
The potential security risks posed by mitigation and adaptation policies and technologies are intriguing and underexplored aspects of climate change responses.
Backdraft: The Conflict Potential of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation draws on the insights of leading environmental security experts to examine different facets of the conflict potential of climate change mitigation and adaptation—not only physical violence, but also the broader spectrum of social and political confrontation.
Footnote: Dabelko, Geoffrey D., Lauren Herzer, Schuyler Null, Meaghan Parker, & Russell Sticklor (Eds). (2013). Backdraft:The Conflict Potential of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (Environmental Change & Security Program Report Vol. 14, Issue 2). Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.