Climate change could heighten tensions: UNEP news
10 December 2007

Bali: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today warned that growing water and food shortages caused by changing climatic patterns could increase tensions and trigger conflicts globally including in the Indian subcontinent.

Based on a report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change, authored by German and Swiss academics, UNEP warned that shortages and conflicts would trigger a new flows of ''''environmental refugees''''.

The report said shrinking glaciers due to global warming would jeopardise water resources and bring changes in the monsoon patterns that disrupt agriculture. Rising sea levels would threaten millions of people in coastal settlements in Bangladesh and tides of refugees and hungry masses could destabilise weak governments in Bangladesh and Pakistan, it warned.

The report urged nations to launch an "ambitious" plan to cut back carbon dioxide emissions and other global-warming gases.

Achim Steiner, executive director, UNEP, said ways were required to "climate-proof economies to buffer them against the climatic changes already under way."

The German Advisory Council`s report, identified the following conflict areas:

Climate change in Africa`s Sahel region comprising Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal are expected to cause water scarcities, drought and crop failures, aggravating social crises in a region already burdened by failing states, such as Somalia, and civil wars, as in Sudan. During the 1970''s the Sahelian caught the world''s attention due to widespread famines arising from major crop failure.

Heat waves, droughts and rises in sea levels in China will add to existing environmental stress and present major new problems for an already heavily challenged government.
More intense hurricanes in the Caribbean and Central America would overpower government capacities to deal with their consequences in island states and impoverished nations.

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Climate change could heighten tensions: UNEP