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The Underacknowledged Conflict

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

By Habiba Hesham Kotb


Over time, the conflicts that confront us evolve along with our individual and societal growth. Conflicts can manifest in various forms, such as territorial disputes, economic and political instability, resource scarcity, and ideological disagreements. Nevertheless, the majority of conflicts arise within a country's borders. Parties involved in such conflicts must first acknowledge them before taking the necessary steps to resolve them on a wider international scale. With the growth of globalization, the spill-over effect plays a significant role in conflicts where non-active actors are involved. This could be among the reasons why alliances are formed between neighboring countries because no one wants to deal with a problematic neighbor. However, a conflict involving everyone is climate change.

Naturally, the planet's climate has always been changing. The reason why it is dangerous is man-made climate change. The steam engine's invention, which induced the industrial revolution, led to a sequence of deteriorative events that led to the onset of human-made climate change. Even though various factors contributed to the issue, there is no clear antagonist or protagonist in this conflict. Climate change is a global issue that is primarily addressed within intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). Treaties and agreements are formulated within these IGOs to combat the issue. The resolution of this conflict involves states that hold significant power during policy debates, as their influence affects the decision-making process. Ironically, the states with influential positions on the world stage also emit the largest amounts of greenhouse gases - notably the US and China. Those in opposition to action on climate change include skeptics who deny its existence, while proponents argue that it is an imperative issue due to its increasingly irreversible nature. Ironically, the states with influential positions on the world stage also emit the largest amounts of greenhouse gases - notably the US and China. States that depend on environmentally harmful practices for their affordable lifestyles reap benefits from ignoring the climate crisis. The analysis of climate change relies on objective evaluations mainly conducted by scientists, world leaders, and policymakers. Agreements should be based on scientifically proven research, and conflict analysts must consider the potential dangers posed by climate change.

Potential issues stemming from climate change are a significant concern, posing severe threats to people and nations worldwide. It is crucial to address these issues before irreparable damage occurs. Global warming is causing sea levels to rise, leading to widespread flooding, while droughts threaten the growth of crops, potentially causing world hunger. Additionally, climate change could result in health risks, poor water quality, higher taxes, and electricity bills. A potential political consequence of climate change may be the legitimization of neo-colonialism, humanitarian intervention, and military intervention using environmental issues. During this time, scientists suggest that we are approaching the end of the conflict escalation and stalemate. Climate change differs from other conflicts because it cannot wait for a stalemate stage before taking action. The effects and damages of climate change are largely irreversible, so negotiations and active decision-making must begin immediately. Post-conflict peacebuilding and guidelines are necessary even after the climate change conflict is resolved to prevent the same problem from recurring or other issues arising from its aftermath. Outcomes of International Governmental Organization (IGO) discussions, such as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2016 Paris Agreement, have been signed. Hopefully, there will be visible outcomes in accordance with the guidelines established for each country.

Conflict analysis involves multiple standard steps; however, each conflict is unique with its own risks and effects. To effectively address global conflicts, conflict analysts and policymakers should adhere to guidelines and use knowledge-based incentive structures to create policies. Since the majority of conflicts are caused by humans, it stands to reason that they should also be resolved by them. Climate change has been recognized by scientists for a significant period of time, but unfortunately, world leaders have only recently begun to identify it as a conflict; yet, the steps taken to mitigate its effects are insufficient. Only producing an analysis report will not resolve the conflict; all parties must take proactive action.

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