Making science work for development

Did Climate Change Spark the Syrian Civil War?

27 APRIL 2017

For proponents of the view that anthropogenic climate change will become a 'threat multiplier' for instability in the decades ahead, the Syrian civil war - now entering its seventh year-  has become a recurring reference point, providing apparently compelling evidence that such conflict effects are already with us. According to this view, human-induced climatic change lay behind an extreme pre-civil war drought in Syria; this drought in turn caused large-scale migration; and this migration exacerbated the socio-economic stresses that underpinned Syria's descent into war.

This lecture will interrogate these claims and offer a counter-interpretation - one with important implications both for understanding the conflict and security implications of climate change, and for the politics of development more broadly.