Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Climate change and conflict

Connections between climate and conflict have been the centre of critical debate and discussion. In this Viewpoint, five researchers provide their thoughts and opinions on the topic, outlining the types of conflict that can be linked to climate variability, and how these relationships might evolve with ongoing climate change.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Mach, K. J. et al. Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict. Nature 571, 193–197 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Mach, K. J. et al. Directions for research on climate and conflict. Earths Future 8, e2020EF001532 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Koubi, V. Climate change and conflict. Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 22, 343–360 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Daoust, G. & Selby, J. Understanding the politics of climate security policy discourse: the case of the Lake Chad basin. Geopolitics (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Said, E. Orientalism (Pantheon, 1978).

  6. Adams, C. et al. Sampling bias in climate–conflict research. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 200–203 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Selby, J. Positivist climate conflict research: a critique. Geopolitics 19, 829–856 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Ide, T. Research methods for exploring the links between climate change and conflict. WIREs Clim. Change 8, e456 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. O’Neill, B. C. et al. in Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (eds Pörtner, H.-O. et al.) 2411–2538 (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2022).

  10. Obradovich, N. Climate change may speed democratic turnover. Clim. Change 140, 135–147 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Siddiqi, A. The missing subject: enabling a postcolonial future for climate conflict research. Geogr. Compass 16, e12622 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Ide, T. et al. Multi-method evidence for when and how climate-related disasters contribute to armed conflict risk. Glob. Environ. Change 62, 102063 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Petrova, K. Floods, communal conflict and the role of local state institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Polit. Geogr. 92, 102511 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Crost, B. et al. Climate change, agricultural production and civil conflict: evidence from the Philippines. J. Environ. Econ. Manag. 88, 379–395 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Buhaug, H. & von Uexkull, N. Vicious circles: violence, vulnerability, and climate change. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 46, 545–568 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Mendenhall, E. et al. Climate change increases the risk of fisheries conflict. Mar. Policy 117, 103954 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. von Uexkull, N. & Buhaug, H. Security implications of climate change: a decade of scientific progress. J. Peace Res. 58, 3–17 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Branch, A. From disaster to devastation: drought as war in northern Uganda. Disasters 42, S306–S327 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Sokoloff, K. L. & Engerman, S. L. Institutions, factor endowments, and paths of development in the new world. J. Econ. Perspect. 14, 217–232 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S. & Robinson, J. A. The colonial origins of comparative development: an empirical investigation. Am. Econ. Rev. 91, 1369–1401 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Koubi, V. et al. Environmental migrants and social-movement participation. J. Peace Res. 51, 18–32 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Eriksen, S. et al. Adaptation interventions and their effect on vulnerability in developing countries: help, hindrance or irrelevance? World Dev. 141, 105383 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Selby, J. Daoust, G. & Hoffmann, C. Divided Environments: an International Political Ecology of Climate Change, Water and Security (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2022).

Download references


N.v.U. acknowledges support from European Research Council grant no. 101055133.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Cullen S. Hendrix is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, professor at the Korbel School, University of Denver and non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Climate & Security. His work on climate–conflict links concentrates on the interplay between local climate conditions, global markets and conflict, and has appeared in journals across geography, marine science and political science.

Vally Koubi is a professor at ETH Zurich and the University of Bern. Her research focuses on the effects of climate change on migration and conflict, using microlevel surveys and survey experiments in countries of the Global South. Her work has appeared in Climatic Change, International Organization, Journal of Peace Research, Nature Climate Change and Population & Environment.

Jan Selby is a professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield, UK. His research adopts a political ecology lens on issues of climate change, water, energy and security. His latest book is Divided Environments: An International Political Ecology of Climate Change, Water and Security.

Ayesha Siddiqi is an assistant professor at the University of Cambridge. Her research focus is on hazard-based disasters and their interaction with existing insecurities in people’s lives. Her monograph on this subject, In the Wake of Disaster: Islamists, the State, and a Social Contract in Pakistan, was published in 2019. She has done community-level fieldwork in a number of different country contexts in the Global South.

Nina von Uexkull is an associate professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University and associate senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo. Her work on climate change and conflict has focused on the rural economy, using microlevel surveys, subnational statistics and long-term scenarios. Her work has appeared in Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, amongst others. She received the 2022 Oscar Prize from Uppsala University.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Cullen S. Hendrix, Vally Koubi, Jan Selby, Ayesha Siddiqi or Nina von Uexkull.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hendrix, C.S., Koubi, V., Selby, J. et al. Climate change and conflict. Nat Rev Earth Environ 4, 144–148 (2023).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing