There is very little academic research on the links between climate change and conflict. Of the few studies that are available, the findings are mixed. Most authors argue that whilst climate change may well result in increased conflict, this path is not certain.
The most commonly discussed scenarios are that climate change causes resource scarcity, which prompts violent conflict, or that resource scarcity results in migration which leads to conflict in the receiving area. Of the papers that do find a clear link between climate and conflict, climate change appears to be one factor contributing to conflict, not necessarily a leading or important factor.
Several authors link these discussions to existing research on the causes of conflict, particularly the ‘greed or grievance’ debate. They argue that if conflict is primarily motivated by resource-abundance (or ‘greed’) as opposed to scarcity, then water or arable land shortages prompted by climate change are less of a concern to conflict prevention analysts.
There is a much larger body of literature on security and climate change, particularly from authors who take a broad view of ‘human security’, including sustainable livelihoods, food security etc. There is a general consensus that climate change poses very serious threats to human security. This literature has only been included if it specifically links increased human insecurity to increased outbreaks of violent conflict. Some of the popular literature on climate change emphasises the threat to international security. The scenario suggested is that increased global competition for resources will lead to increased international tension, which could spark violent, inter-state conflict. In the time available for this query, no academic research was found that supported this view.