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The escalation of geopolitical tensions in the age of climate change

Climate change is not only an ecological challenge, but also an increasingly important geopolitical factor that is intensifying political tensions and conflicts worldwide. While the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly noticeable, geopolitical disputes are also coming to the fore. From resource scarcity to migration and territorial claims, the consequences of climate change are becoming a source of conflict and uncertainty.

Scarcity of resources and competition

A key trigger for political tensions in the context of climate change is the scarcity of resources. The increasing demand for water, food and energy due to droughts, floods and other climatic extremes is leading to increased competition between countries and regions. Competition is intensifying, particularly in areas with limited natural resources, which can lead to conflicts and even armed clashes.

Source: [Council on Foreign Relations – Water Scarcity: A Global Security Risk](https://www.cfr.org/report/water-scarcity-global-security-risk)

Migration and displaced persons

Climate change has already forced millions of people to flee their homes and is likely to force even more to do so. This massive influx of climate refugees can lead to social unrest and political tensions both within countries and between states. The challenges associated with the reception and integration of climate migrants could lead to conflicts and divisions in the host societies.

Source: [United Nations University – Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration](https://unu.edu/publications/articles/climate-change-environmental-degradation-and-migration.html)

Territorial claims and maritime borders

Rising sea levels due to climate change may affect the territorial claims of many coastal states. Particularly in regions such as the South China Sea, where there are already complex geopolitical tensions, conflicts could intensify as countries fight for control of new sea areas and resources. Uncertainty over maritime borders and territorial sovereignty can lead to military confrontations and jeopardize the stability of entire regions.

Source: [Center for Climate and Security – Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier in the South China Sea](https://climateandsecurity.org/2020/09/01/climate-change-as-a-threat-multiplier-in-the-south-china-sea/)

Summary and outlook

The political tensions and geopolitical disputes resulting from climate change are an increasing reality that threatens international security and stability. A coordinated and comprehensive global response is needed to tackle these challenges. Tackling climate change requires not only measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also strategies to adapt to the already unavoidable consequences. Only through a joint effort can we ease geopolitical tensions and create a sustainable future for all.

Source: [The Brookings Institution – The geopolitics of climate change](https://www.brookings.edu/events/the-geopolitics-of-climate-change/)


Read also: Military conflicts and the fight against climate change: an ominous connection

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