The role of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the Syrian Conflict

Nabhan, Khalil (2020) The role of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the Syrian Conflict. MA/MSc thesis, BCE Nemzetközi, Politikai és Regionális Tanulmányok Intézet, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok Tanszék. Szabadon elérhető változat / Unrestricted version:

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Human-induced climate change is now predominantly accepted within the scientific community. It is expected to dramatically impact our access to essential natural resources, leading to scarcity in water, food, and livelihoods. These changes will fuel tensions in the most affected populations, increasing the risk of violence. Despite its potential profound impact on our societies, the mechanisms leading from climate change to conflict has not received the attention it deserves. For this purpose, this thesis studies the role of anthropogenic climate change as a cause of conflict. It argues that, in certain cases, anthropogenic climate change exacerbates already existing horizontal inequalities, increasing the likelihood of conflict and making the violent events more persistent. To test this theory, this paper focuses on the Syrian conflict as a case study. As the Syrian conflict still continues in its 9th year (from 2011 onwards), the causes of the war are still not fully understood. A new emerging hypothesis claims that human-induced climate change played a major role in the onset of the war. According to this view, a series of extreme droughts occurred within Syria before the conflict. These climatic shocks led to large-scale migrations, from rural and urban areas, effectively exacerbating socio-economic stresses paving the way for Syria's fall into war. This thesis revisits these claims and provides an analysis of the role anthropogenic climate change played in the onset of the Syrian conflict. Through the analysis of primary, secondary and media sources, this paper uses process tracing to explain climate change’s role in Syria. It argues that anthropogenic climate change exacerbated already existing horizontal inequalities in Syria, which increased the likelihood of conflict. This hypothesis is demonstrated through the study of anthropogenic climate change’s interference with the socioeconomic and political horizontal inequalities in Syria, and its subsequent role in the onset of the conflict. It concludes that a series of multi-seasonal droughts created a state of scarcity over essential resources, exacerbating deeply rooted horizontal inequalities within the Syrian population. The increased competition over resources resulted in growing grievances and resentment between various ethnic-religious groups, eventually leading to violence.

Item Type:MA/MSc thesis
Subjects:Environmental economics, environment protection
International relations
ID Code:13107
Specialisation:International Relations
Deposited On:27 Oct 2020 13:24
Last Modified:06 Dec 2021 09:07

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