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Climate change ‘could lead to conflict with Russia’

EuropeNASA.JPGClimate change could lead Europe into a conflict with Russia, according to a report from Europe’s foreign policy leaders.

The report won’t be officially presented to the European Council until Friday, but it’s already all over the media. Apparently Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Council’s foreign policy chief and the European commissioner for external relations respectively, warn that competition for energy and the “threat multiplier” of climate change is likely to produce “potential conflicts”.

First picked up last week by Reuters, AFP, and others, the report hit the front page of the Guardian today, prompting another round of coverage. It states:

Climate change is best viewed as a threat multiplier which exacerbates existing trends, tensions and instability. The core challenge is that climate change threatens to overburden states and regions which are already fragile and conflict-prone. The risks include political and security risks that directly affect European interests.

The report cites several examples of climate-linked conflict, including fighting over resources in Darfur, migration due to flooding in Bangladesh, and arguments over who owns the energy riches of the Arctic (see here for a story about Russia’s stunt of planting a flag on the seabed at the North Pole).

From the extracts being quoted, though, the report doesn’t seem to go further than other discussions of the subject have; see here for a Nature Reports Climate Change feature from last year on the topic. However fact that diplomats of Solana’s level are saying this is something of an escalation.

Image: NASA

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