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As extreme weather this summer shows, no place is immune from climate change’s impact on the interconnected natural and human systems that underpin stability and security. Iran and Türkiye are two geopolitically critical countries that, despite not being among the very most vulnerable states, face serious climate risks that are likely to fuel insecurity and shape foreign policy. Just this summer, Iran experienced worsening water scarcity and an extreme heatwave that forced a two-day nationwide shutdown for fear of blackouts and protests. Türkiye faced dwindling reservoirs and severe flooding in Istanbul amid lethal wildfires that prompted the closing of the Dardanelles Strait, which connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea.
In these reports, CCS and Woodwell combine projections of climate trends, security analysis, and country expertise to convey how climate change is likely to fuel security challenges in both countries and what it means for the United States. The Iran analysis explores how climate change, poor governance, and international isolation are decimating agricultural livelihoods and exacerbating water insecurity–fueling repression and generating tensions with Türkiye, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf States. Meanwhile, Türkiye faces worsening water shortages and wildfires that are likely to amplify domestic political tensions, exacerbate mistreatment of refugees, and fuel disputes with downstream countries over the shared Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
These publications continue a partnership between CCS and Woodwell to jointly create analysis on the nexus of climate change and security in key locations. This partnership combines sophisticated science, policy-relevant security analysis, and compelling presentation to identify and communicate climate-related security risks. Previous case studies examined climate security challenges involving nuclear-armed states, and focused on the Arctic, China-India border region, and North Korea.
On Syrian Refugees and Climate Change: The Risks of Oversimplifying and Underestimating the Connection
It unfortunately took the heart-wrenching image of a dead Syrian child on a Turkish seashore to fully alert the international community to an unfolding disaster: the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. As the crisis ensues, many in the public eye have been asking the question: What is behind this extraordinary exodus? Essentially, what is the proximate cause? The answer to that question is straightforward. A brutal civil war in Syria has left many people with little choice but to flee. Some commentators are asking another question, however, that seeks to illuminate “ultimate” causes of an unstable Syria, and the current crisis. Namely: What were the conditions that led Syria to collapse, and how can we prevent these crises in the future? And in that context, does climate change have anything to do with it? The answer to that is complex, of course. (more…)
This is a cross-post by Mehmet Burk from Relief Analysis Wire.
As one of the most staggering humanitarian crises in recent decades continues to rapidly accelerate in Syria, the ability to effectively deliver food aid to vulnerable populations is paramount. 4 million Syrians cannot access basic foods according to the World Food Programme, and escalating tensions will not help agricultural production. (more…)
The Central Asian region is of critical strategic importance to the United States and its NATO allies. That is why, on top of environmental and humanitarian concerns associated with the phenomenon, rapid glacial melt in the region should be a top concern for national security planners and practitioners. (more…)