The Potential Conflicts of Climate Change

Climate Change is the single most important issue that the international world should be addressing right now. Unfortunately, national interests and institutions usually hinder any real progress to changing the human impact on our world. The Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) are two of the most promising international attempts at combatting global warming, but there have been enormous hindrances to carbon-reducing agendas. The United States is one of the worst offenders, refusing to adhere to some of the policies of carbon-reduction stated in the Kyoto Protocol. And since the United States has one of the highest CO2 emissions, (along with that of China and the collective EU), when the U.S. doesn’t adhere that’s a huge portion of the world’s emissions that are not reduced, and sets a standard that the world’s largest economy need not follow the rules, perhaps encouraging other countries to cut corners as well.

“Why Climate Change has not led to Conflict” is the sub-heading for No Wars for Water, the latest in published Foreign Affairs articles. The article covers the facts on how climate change has and will affect the world’s fresh water supplies, and focuses on the Nile and the Aral Sea in North Africa and Central Asia as bodies of water that have already seen very minor conflicts over availability and may see more as the rivers are affected by global warming. Notice how these are some of the more unstable regions of the world, turning conflicts more probable. But what the article states is that it is not the case that countries or regional groups have been actively violent over water disputes. “If the past is any indication, the world probably does not need to worry about impending water wars. But they must recognize how tensions over water can easily fuel larger conflicts and distract states from other important geopolitical and domestic priorities.” Though lack of fresh water may not be the reason for fighting a war, it can easily be a factor into international conflicts. Thus the authors suggest that preemptive water treaties over access to the water get drawn up now before the conflicts arise. Overall, it would be, “wise for the involved governments as well as the international community to negotiate sufficiently robust agreements to deal with impending environmental change.”

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