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Climate – conflict link debunked: Professor: ‘Little evidence to suggest that the conflict…is in any way correlated to climate change’

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Andrew Montford (now Deputy Director of GWPF) has a report on the talk.

The talk is about 35 minutes long and is followed by questions and discussion.

Near the beginning she gives her conclusion:

“There is very little evidence to suggest that the conflict and protest patterns that we see across developing countries is in any way correlated to climate change.”

A bit later she says that there is a widespread assumption that conflict occurs naturally under adverse weather conditions, but in fact the opposite occurs – cooperation is far more likely in difficult conditions. But cooperation doesn’t make headline news, so we don’t hear about it in the media.

For similar reasons, I think it is unlikely that the Guardian or the BBC will report on Prof Raleigh’s lecture.

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‘Climate Violence?’ with Prof Clionadh Raleigh



Recent research purports that climate change is creating conflict, and leads to unchecked migration. But three distinct flaws characterize such research efforts; they often ask the wrong questions, present poor evidence, and remove references to other, more likely factors that cause conflict. It often gets translated into a perception that poor people act violently for ‘natural’ reasons, or are spurred by physical hazards. We all know that high climate vulnerability and conflict co-occur in the same general regions, but we know far less about what does shape the power and competition dynamics at the local level. Basically, who are the winners and losers of environmental change?

The reality from local research is that far more cooperation is occurring at the local level to mitigate and adapt to environmental challenges; and that a tremendous amount of development money is being directed towards adaptation and risk management. This changes the local calculus for violence. As a result, conflict, when and where it does occur, is often between the ‘winners’ from climate change, development and transitions to democracy.

Join in with twitter using hashtag #natureconflict


About the speaker

Prof Clionadh RaleighProfessor Clionadh Raleigh is a Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sussex. She previously served as a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Trinity College, Dublin and an external researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). She is a political geographer, and her work is focused mainly on conflict, governance, and the social consequences of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Raleigh directs the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) project, which tracks local conflict events in fifty countries. Her current work concerns conflict patterns, government intervention, and drought patterns in the Sahel belt, and appears in journals such as Political Geography. Professor Raleigh earned her PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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