Global breakdown of the IPCC’s warnings, and what they mean for peace and security

26 August, 2021

forest, fire, trees, smoke

© Bjørn Tore Økland/

What before was ‘clear’ is now ‘unequivocal’: human activity is causing the climate to change rapidly and drastically, while threatening the environment and the resources we need for surviving. Although we might struggle to digest these catastrophic – and yet, foreseeable – news, we have learned, once again, that we do not have the luxury of time. Read on to find out what the IPCC report’s climate change projections mean for peace and security around the world.

Courtesy images

Here we breakdown the latest IPCC report’s findings on how climate change is manifesting in each of the world’s regions, and how it is projected to change in the near future under the current emmission scenarios. It is critical that policymakers also understand how the IPCC’s projections are related to conflict and insecurity trends in each of the world’s regions, so that adaptation and mitigation efforts are conflict-sensitive and do not exacerbate security risks. Wherever possible, the materials linked below contain context-specific entry-points for addressing climate-related security risks. 


IPCC findings on climate change

  • North Africa is projected to become drier and hotter, with increases in fire weather conditions and droughts.
  • West Africa has had an observed increase in both floodings and droughts, and climate change is projected to increase both trends.
  • Sahara and parts of the Sahel will see increased precipitation and floodings.
  • North Eastern Africa already experiences decreases in precipitation and receding snow and glaciers. Projections show a decrease in droughts and an increase in precipitation.
  • Southern East Africa will see heavier precipitation and floodings, decreases in snow and glaciers and higher cyclone wind speeds.
  • East Southern Africa will see increases in precipitation and flooding, alongside more frequent droughts and fire weather conditions, and higher tropical cyclone wind speeds.
  • Central Africa will see heavier precipitation and floodings.
  • West Southern Africa is projected to become drier and have higher wind speeds, as well as more frequent fire weather conditions.
  • Madagascar is projected to suffer more droughts, heavy precipitations, higher wind speeds and more cyclones.
IPCC Africa

© IPCC/CC BY 4.0

Our findings on climate-related fragility

Through the following pathways, climate change could increase fragility in:

North Africa & the Sahel:

  1. Farmer-herder conflicts
  2. Tensions related to climate-induced migration
  3. Tensions and disputes over water allocation
  4. Impacts on state capacity and the growth of armed opposition groups


  1. Discontent over food and livelihood insecurity could undermine state authority
  2. Forced migration could exacerbate existing tensions
  3. Livelihood insecurity could strengthen non-state armed groups


  1. Rent-seeking behaviour negatively affects environmental degradation and conflict
  2. Conflict-insensitive climate/environmental action increases grievances
  3. Migration is both a resilience strategy and source of tension
  4. Conflicts over natural resources are likely to increase
  5. Climate change and conflict undermine livelihoods and social cohesion
Courtesy image


  1. Increased competition over distribution, use of and access to natural resources can result in conflict
  2. Displacement and livelihood loss due to climate change and conflict can lead to maladaptation
  3. Inadequate responses to climate change and conflict can undermine government legitimacy and capacity


IPCC findings on climate change

The mean surface temperature increase has exceeded variability compared to 1850-1900. Heat extremes have increased while cold extremes have decreased. Marine heatwaves will continue to increase. Fire weather seasons will lengthen and intensify, particularly in North Asia. Average and heavy precipitation will increase over much of Asia. Mean surface wind speeds will continue to decrease in central and northern parts of Asia. Glaciers are declining and permafrost is thawing. Glacier runoff in the high mountains will increase up to mid-21st century, and subsequently runoff may decrease due to the loss of glacier storage. Relative sea level around Asia has increased faster than global average, with coastal area loss and shoreline retreat. Regional-mean sea level will continue to rise.

  • North Asia‘s permafrost is thawing, its temperature increasing, and snow duration and extent is reducing. Precipitation is on the rise, but the southwestern parts will see its soil moisture decline and the fire season lengthen.
  • East Asia will see an increase in its precipitation and landslides in mountain areas. The rate of intensification and number of strong tropical cyclones have increased.
  • In the Tibetan Plateau, snow cover has been reducing, and glaciers retreating and losing mass. This trend will continue, and a general wetting across the whole Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya is projected.
  • South Asia will suffer more intense and frequent heatwaves and humid heat stress. Both annual and summer monsoon precipitation will increase, with enhanced interannual variability.
  • Southwest Asia has seen an increase in droughts and extreme precipitation. Mountain permafrost degradation has increased the instability of mountain slopes. Precipitation is projected to increase overall, while decreasing in summer.
  • Southeast Asia. Future warming will be slightly less than the global average. Rainfall variability could increase. Compound impacts of climate change, land subsidence, and local human activities will lead to higher flood levels and prolonged inundation in the Mekong Delta.

© IPCC/CC BY 4.0

Our findings on climate-related fragility

Through the following pathways, climate change could increase fragility in:


  1. Climate shocks could worsen poverty, weaken governance and contribute to instability
  2. More frequent droughts could encourage the drug economy
  3. Scarcer water and arable land could increase conflict
  4. Tensions over transboundary waters may encourage peace spoilers
  5. Resource politics around green energy minerals could strain further

Middle East:

  1. Water scarcity and conflicts
  2. Food and livelihood insecurity
  3. Energy insecurity
  4. Disrupted transport and damaged infrastructure
  5. Human health risks


  1. Increasing livelihood insecurity
  2. Exacerbating resource and identity conflicts
  3. Federalist reform, resilience building and legitimacy

South Asia:

  1. Escalation of regional tensions due to competition over resources
  2. Worsening economic and livelihood insecurity
  3. Increased mobility and urbanisation linked to slow and rapid-onset disasters
  4. Compounding risks of crime, extremism and terrorism


IPCC findings on climate change

  • In Southern Central America and the Caribbean, precipitation is expected to decrease but with uncertainty regarding amount. Fire weather, droughts and temperatures are projected to increase.
  • In Southern Central America, aridity and droughts are increasing. Fire weather is projected to increase.
  • Southeastern South America will see the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation and pluvial floods increase.
  • In Southwestern South America, the total land area subject to increasing drought frequency and severity will expand. Projections of fire weather indices indicate an increased risk.
  • Northern, Northeastern and Southern South America will see an increase of intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation and floods. Drought duration is also set to increase.
  • In Northwestern South America, decreases in snow and ice are projected. Glacier volume loss and permafrost thawing will likely continue in the Andes Cordillera, causing reductions in river flow and potentially glacial lake outburst floods.
IPCC_Central South America

© IPCC/CC BY 4.0

Our findings on climate-related fragility

Through the following pathways, climate change could increase fragility in:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

  1. Damage to infrastructure and economies exacerbates tensions
  2. Climate change and organized and environmental crime
  3. Climate change contributing to migration and urban violence
  4. The future of extractives in a changing climate
  5. Increased spread of disease

Northern Central America:

  1. Climate change is having a dramatic effect on livelihoods, particularly on the agricultural sector, fishing and land tenure
  2. Climate change impacts in the form of extreme weather events, loss of land, and erratic rainfall exacerbate already high rates of displacement and migration
  3. Climate change is affecting livelihoods further by threatening young people’s prospects, driving people into informal economies, and strengthening criminal networks
  4. Deeply rooted social divides, especially around access to land and natural resources, can be exacerbated by gaps in institutional capacities and uncontrolled extraction of resources


IPCC findings on climate change

  • In Northern Europe, observed increase in pluvial flooding is projected to further increase. River flood is projected to decrease, while severe wind storms should increase.
  • Western & Central Europe will see an increase in pluvial and river flooding, as well as hydrological, agricultural and ecological droughts, regardless of the greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
  • Eastern Europe will see more pluvial flooding, but less river floods. Fire weather is projected to increase.
  • In the Mediterranean, projections show a combination of warming, temperature extremes, increase in droughts and aridity, precipitation decrease, increase in fire weather, mean and extreme sea levels, snow cover decrease, and wind speed decrease.

© IPCC/CC BY 4.0

Our findings on climate-related fragility

There are eight critical sectors threatened by climate change impacts in South Eastern Europe:

  1. Increasing droughts and floodings will impact the agricultural sector, reducing the availability of arable land and water resources, and decreasing yields
  2. Less snowfall and a shorter snow season might impact winter tourism in the mountains, while water shortages, heat waves and an increased number of wildfires might affect summer tourism in coastal regions
  3. Domestic coal and lignite as well as hydropower could be increasingly affected by climate change impacts, leading to interrupted energy supply and higher prices
  4. Increased precipitation in winter and spring, as well as more intense snow melt and resulting floods or landslides, could affect operating or abandoned mines, with tailings and contaminants being released into watercourses
  5. South-Eastern Europe is currently witnessing a largescale emigration of its young and educated population. Climate change will likely aggravate the existing economic situation and provide incentives for further migration
  6. More intense heat waves can increase heat-related mortality and elevate particulate matter and ground-ozone concentration, increasing air pollution. A warmer climate is favorable for mosquitos that transmit diseases.
  7. Climate change can weaken cooperation and increase the potential of regional conflicts over shared transboundary waters, and theaten regional water and energy supply
  8. Increasing wildfires pose a major risk to the region’s forests. Tree growth will be affected by the impacts of climate change, leading to more frequent pests and diseases, invasive species, and decrease in the productivity


IPCC findings on climate change

  • The Arctic has very likely warmed at more than twice the global rate over the past 50 years, and this trend should continue. The fire season is projected to lengthen, and fires should encroach into tundra regions. Permafrost warming and thawing have been widespread in the Arctic since the 1980s, and there is high confidence in future permafrost warming. The observed increase in relative sea level rise is virtually certain to continue in Arctic contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding and shoreline retreat along sandy coasts. Current Arctic sea ice cover is projected to reach practically ice-free conditions at its summer minimum at least once before 2050 under all scenarios.
  • In the Antarctic, observations show a strong warming trend starting in the 1950s. Significant warming trends are observed in other West Antarctic regions and at selected stations in East Antarctica. Some Antarctic regions are projected to continue to warm in the 21st century at a rate greater than global. Antarctic snowfall and net snow accumulation have increased over the 20th century. Mass losses from West Antarctic outlet glaciers outpace mass gain from increased snow accumulation on the continent. At sustained warming levels between 2°C and 3°C, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will be lost almost completely and irreversibly over multiple millennia. 

© IPCC/CC BY 4.0

Our findings on climate-related fragility

There are seven critical pathways that link climate change to fragility in the Arctic and beyond:

1. The global threat environment will be increasingly shaped by “actorless threats”
2. Increased military activity in the Arctic may have unintended consequences
3. Climate change provides an avenue for China to strengthen its Arctic presence
4. Indigenous cultures and communities are disproportionately at risk
5. Shifting migration patterns are seen as a threat rather than opportunity
6. Inadequate international risk mitigation efforts may increase likelihood of geoengineering technology deployment on a unilateral basis
7. Increasing economic activity in the Arctic may fuel criminal opportunism

Infographic Arctic risk brief CSEN

© adelphi


IPCC findings on climate change

  • The Caribbean will see a declining trend in rainfall during June–July–August in coming decades. Higher evapotranspiration under a warming climate will result in increased aridity and more severe agricultural and ecological droughts. Precipitation is expected to decrease but with uncertainty regarding amount. Fire weather, droughts and temperatures are projected to increase.
  • The Western Indian Ocean has seen declining trends in rainfall over the past 50-60 years.
  • Trends vary spatially and seasonally over Small Island regions in the Pacific. Rainfall has decreased in parts of the Pacific islands poleward of 20° latitude in both hemispheres (eastern Pacific and southern Pacific subtropics). This drying trend will continue in the coming decades, except in parts of western and equatorial Pacific. Heavy rainfall events will increase in the western tropical Pacific. Higher evapotranspiration under a warming climate either amplifies or partially offsets respectively the effect of decreases or increases in rainfall resulting in increased aridity in parts of the Pacific.
IPCC_Small Islands

© IPCC/CC BY 4.0

Our findings on climate-related fragility

Through the following pathways, climate change could increase fragility in:

The Caribbean:

  1. Climate-induced disasters can cause political instability through their impacts on key economic sectors
  2. Climate impacts could lead to social unrest by compounding livelihood and food insecurity
  3. Climate-induced loss of livelihoods could increase opportunities for criminal activity and urbanisation challenges

Pacific Islands Region:

  1. Displacement and forced migration
  2. Challenges to the blue economy
  3. Decline in health and productivity of Pacific People – food and water security
  4. Coping capacity and natural disasters
  5. Impacts of sea-level rise on maritime zone and boundaries


IPCC WGI Interactive Atlas
A novel tool for flexible spatial and temporal analyses of much of the observed and projected climate change information underpinning the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, including regional synthesis for Climatic Impact-Drivers (CIDs).

Climate Security Expert Network
The CSEN is a hub for research on the linkages between climate and security, the effects of climate change on security and responses to these issues. CSEN supports the Group of Friends on Climate and Security and the Climate Security Mechanism of the UN system by synthesising scientific knowledge and expertise, advising on entry points for building resilience to climate-security risks, and helping to strengthen a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities of addressing climate-related security risks.

The FACTBOOK on Environment, Conflict and Cooperation
The Factbook contains 130+ case studies on environmental conflicts and cooperation worldwide, containing detailed information such as the conflict’s history, actors, driving mechanisms, and resolution efforts. Use the map or list below, as well as the filter function, to discover the case studies.

The IPCC provides regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.About Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations. The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO. The IPCC currently has 195 members. Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. For the assessment reports, IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks. An open and transparent review by experts and governments around the world is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment and to reflect a diverse range of views and expertise. Through its assessments, the IPCC identifies the strength of scientific agreement in different areas and indicates where further research is needed. The IPCC does not conduct its own research.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Peace and security are in hot water due to IPCC’s warning on climate change.

    Liked by 1 person

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