Changing the climate for peace

The world’s leading nations agree: combating climate change is crucial for peace in this century.

As many as 25 million people become refugees as a result of weather-related catastrophes every year.

When food and water are not readily available, people and animals move to find them. More often than not this sparks territorial disputes. Though this has been happening since people and animals began sharing the earth, with dwindling resources and growing populations the issue is now critical.

Conflict and instability already plague many of the world’s poorer countries and the reasons behind it are often complex. While environmental changes are not always the primary cause of conflict, they can contribute to and intensify the problem.

More frequent and intense droughts and other abnormal weather events could lead to serious conflict on both a local and global stage. Strong climate and environmental policies could significantly reduce the potential for conflict.

Where we can help

The four key areas of concern are*:
  • degradation of freshwaters
  • decline in food production 
  • increase in storm and flood disasters 
  • environmentally induced migration (stress migration)

Taking the lead

The issues are complex and require long-term policy commitment from leading nations. With a high likelihood of environmental emergencies and conflicts happening, it is vital for nations to develop and improve their ability to respond to events around the world.

Professor Ross Garnaut believes it is in Australia’s national interest to act early and decisively on climate change and to encourage other countries to do the same. This means strong science-based targets to cut carbon emissions here, and showing international leadership on climate negotiations, trade and overseas development assistance.

World Vision Australia Chief Executive Tim Costello agrees that Australia can do more by increasing aid funds to help countries move to low carbon development pathways, smarter agriculture and prepare for changing weather patterns.

“The gains made by rich nations must be matched by actions that help the poor to better adapt and move out of poverty,” he said. “Climate change is one of the biggest moral issues of our time and we cannot afford to limit efforts to our backyard.”

*German Advisory Council on Global Change, Climate Change as a Security Risk.

This was originally published on the 20th of April 2009.

LEFT: Typhoons and other extreme weather events are growing in frequency and intensity; RIGHT: In Ecuador, permaculture is being promoted in communities where World Vision conducts development work.