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Climate Change and Humanity, November 2004
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Workshop 2:
3 April 2009
University of Bath »
Dr. Robert Johnson
Deadline for
30 January 2009

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Workshop 2: Human Consequences: Global and Local Dynamics 

About the speakers and presentations


Dr Graham Brown and Arnim Langer
Universities of Bath and Oxford
‘Climate Change and Economic Theories of Conflict: An Exploratory Review’

Abstract: Since the early 1990s, the attention paid by economists to the causes and dynamics of political violence and civil war has generated a burgeoning but diverse literature.  Three distinct approaches can be identified:  those that emphasize the failure of the 'social contract' as a root cause of violence; those that focus on 'private' motivations such as looting and 'shadow' economic opportunities; those that focus on 'group' motivations, including 'relative deprivation' and 'horizontal inequalities'.  To date, none of these approaches have factored the possible implications of climate change into their analyses.  This paper reviews the three hypotheses and discusses how we might expect climate change to impact on the global dynamics of conflict.

Dr Graham Brown is Senior Lecturer in the Politics of Development at the Department of Economics and International Development of the University of Bath and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) at the University of Oxford.  Graham’s  research is primarily concerned with the nexus of inequality, identity, and political mobilization, including violent conflict, with a focus on the Southeast Asian region.

Arnim Langer is Research Officer in Economics and Politics, West Africa at CRISE, research areas: Causes and consequences of conflict, post-conflict economic reconstruction, sustainable peace building, inequality, group behaviour and identity formation, Africa (particularly Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria). Current research includes; Survey research of group identity and group behaviour in Ghana and Nigeria; Cultural status inequalities and group mobilisation; Persistence of socio-economic horizontal inequalities; Analysis of the Ivorian peace process; Analysis of multidimensional horizontal inequalities and violent conflict: a comparative study of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.


Dr Stephan Harrison 
Associate Professor in Quaternary Science, School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Resources, University of Exeter.  Senior Research Associate, Oxford University Centre for the Environment.  Director, Climate Change Risk Management
‘Climate change and conflict: scientific uncertainties and policy implications’

Abstract: The problem for policymakers, and those wishing to understand the nature and location of those future conflicts forced by climate change, is the problems associated with predicting climate change and predicting the nature and severity of impacts, especially at the regional scale.  It is likely to be regional climate change that destabilizes already vulnerable communities.  Therefore, without useful prediction of the impact of climate change at appropriate scales, it is clearly difficult for military planners and others to develop the logistical and policy structures required for rapid response to future conflict.

Successful prediction of the impacts of future climate change on vulnerable societies requires a combination of climate modeling, a sophisticated knowledge of landscape responses to climate change, and an assessment of the cultural, economic, political and social context within which such changes are occurring.  While achieving this broad-scale understanding may be difficult, resolving these challenges will allow military planners to assess regional vulnerability and conflict potential with far greater chances of success. 

This paper highlights some of the difficulties associated with climate projections from computer models, especially those relating to future changes in precipitation.  The paper also outlines several of the complexities in landscape responses to climate change which have a bearing on water supply, and therefore on the location of future conflict, and ends with a brief discussion of the opportunities and barriers to future progress.

Dr Stephan Harrison is Associate Professor in Quaternary Science at Exeter University and Senior Research Associate at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment.  His main research interests lie in landscape responses to climate change. He has worked for twelve field seasons in Patagonia on climate change issues and five field seasons in the mountains of Kazakhstan examining glacier retreat, climate change and water supply implications. 

Since 2001 Dr Harrison has helped businesses and governmental organisations understand and respond to climate change and he has worked with Lloyd’s Insurance Market, Local Authorities, the UK FCO and a number of environmental consultancies on these issues.  He has also written on the implications of climate change for future conflict in the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute.


John Magrath
Oxfam GB
‘People’s perceptions of climate change and vulnerability in certain Oxfam programmes’

Abstract: Interviews with people with whom Oxfam works in four African countries and two in South-East Asia show marked consistency in perceptions of how climate is changing, and consistency on related impacts on livelihoods. These climatic changes are interacting with environmental and socio-economic stresses to increase chronic vulnerability. They are also likely to increase inequalities. Women and girls in particular are already more vulnerable than men and boys to environmental degradation and socio-economic and cultural inequality and climate change is increasing those vulnerabilities. This is happening while there have not yet been major alterations to climatic patterns that are likely to happen as global average temperatures near "dangerous" thresholds. As such, on the other hand, climate change per se is not yet a major factor increasing vulnerability, compared to existing climatic variabilities and, especially, to environmental damage, notably deforestation, or in comparison to political marginalisation due to gender, ethnicity or poverty. But if climate change does not "stick out" it is nevertheless pervasive and chronic and is perceived as such, especially by women; the pervasive nature of climate change through all aspects of people's lives challenges interpretations of adaptation that see it - for financing purposes - as somehow additional or as essentially environmental. Within the present phase of global warming a degree of adaptation is possible and is happening. How people adapt depends on their situation and the political framework, and there is considerable opportunity to enhance beneficial adaptation through better policies. This also opens up space for approaches to other environmental issues that would otherwise continue to undermine attempts to adapt to climate change and climatic shocks.  

John Magrath is Programme Researcher for Oxfam GB. For the last four years he has worked primarily on the impacts of climate change and the implications for Oxfam's work and mandate.

He has been working for Oxfam GB for nearly 25 years in a variety of roles. A journalist and researcher by profession he was a Press Officer for Oxfam GB, then Executive Assistant to the (former) Director (David Bryer) before becoming Programme Researcher.  

He has written or commissioned several reports for Oxfam on climate change impacts and implications as well as contributing to all of the reports of the "Up in Smoke" group of development and environment agencies. He was the editor of and contributor to a recent (26 February) report on climate change and development in South Africa by Earthlife Africa and Oxfam International. He is currently finishing a report on climate change and poverty interactions in Malawi (to be published in May).


Tim Taylor and Joe Devine
Department of Economics and International Development, University of Bath, Wellbeing in Developing Countries ESRC Research Group (WeD)
‘Climate Change and Security in Bangladesh: A Wellbeing Perspective’

Abstract: Climate change is likely to have significant implications for well-being, and consequently for security in South Asia and beyond. Bangladesh faces numerous climate stressors, including sea level rise, increasing temperatures and rainfall anomalies. The recent IPCC report shows that the projections for South Asia in the period 2070-2099 include increases in temperature of between 1.5 to 5.4C depending on the season, falls in precipitation in January to March and significant increases in precipitation of up to 31% in other months. With limited adaptive capacity, the economic and social consequences of climate change in Bangladesh are likely to be significant. Impacts on crops may be significant, increased salinity of groundwater and climate change attributable diarrhoea and malnutrition may pose significant morbidity and mortality risks. The consequences include increased migration and urban expansion. This paper makes an initial attempt to apply a wellbeing approach to evaluate the likely implications of climate change in Bangladesh, drawing on the recent WeD research project and placing it within the climate change context. The significance of climate change alongside other drivers for wellbeing is discussed, along with the uncertainties inherent in this type of analysis.  The potential consequences for security are discussed, as is the potential role of institutional actors in fostering adaptive capacity in Bangladesh.  Finally, the usefulness of a wellbeing approach to evaluate implications of climate change is discussed.

Tim Taylor is a Research Officer in Environmental Economics at the University of Bath. Tim has a broad interest in climate policy, having published on issues of sustainability assessment of climate change mitigation in developing countries and on the valuation of climate change impacts. Tim was a contributing author to the IPCC's Third Assessment Report and has previously acted as a consultant to the World Bank and UNEP on sustainable development issues.

Joe Devine is a Lecturer in International Development at the University of Bath and Country Coordinator (Bangladesh) for Wellbeing in Developing Countries ESRC Research Group (WeD). “Currently my main research interests lie in well-being, poverty and inequality, and since October 2002 I have been the Country Coordinator (Bangladesh) for WeD.  This in turn builds on an overarching interest in the cultural construction of poverty and people’s struggles to deal with poverty. To date this has allowed me to look at the everyday politics of civil society organisations such as NGOs and other community based organisations, and will be continued (from 2006) with a focus on faith and religion. The interaction between people and various organisations forms the basis for an ongoing reflection into governance and the dynamics of policy processes. In this regard, I have examined through previous research the relation between policy making discourse and everyday practices of organisations, communities and individuals in the fields of coastal management, HIV/AIDS, land distribution and human rights”.

Sarah Hendel-Blackford 
Ecofys UK
‘Voices of the Vulnerable: preventing adaptation apartheid’

Abstract: The registered number of violent conflicts in Mexico over water resources has been rising dramatically over the last 25 years; this trend is set to continue with the impacts of climate change, as changes in precipitation patterns combined coupled with a lack of a holistic, integrated water resource management exacerbate the problem. A project initiated by three individuals (Federico Bellone, Marco van der Ree and Sarah Hendel-Blackford) based in public, private and voluntary organisations across the globe explores the challenges of effective adaptation in the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They developed the idea of a global dialogue ’Voices of the Vulnerable – Preventing Adaptation Apartheid’. The project team went to London, Brussels and Mexico in 2008, recording opinions with national and community leaders from all continents, from rubber tappers in South America to journalists in Nigeria. The objective: to stimulate a genuine global adaptation dialogue between vulnerable developing countries and the developed world in order to influence both existing and nascent adaptation policy and resource allocation in 2009, a year of unprecedented opportunity for adaptation policy development.

Sarah Hendel-Blackford (MA) is a Senior Consultant, Climate Change and Energy at Ecofys UK.  Sarah specializes in climate change impacts and adaptation, and has worked in policy development at European, national, regional and sub-regional level as well as created adaptation tools and guidance for specific sectors. Sarah has worked on projects for the European Commission on the Adaptation Green Paper, the subsequent review of sectoral impacts for the forthcoming Adaptation White Paper, and reviewed the latest adaptation developments in built environment, insurance and energy infrastructure since the IPCC 4th Assessment Report.

Before joining Ecofys, Sarah was Manager of the South West Climate Change Impacts Partnership (SWCCIP), a partnership of public and private sector organisations focusing on impacts of climate change on and adaptation within various sectors (agriculture, biodiversity, insurance and business, housing and construction, local government, tourism and utilities). Sarah spent four years working on climate change policy in the European Commission and the European Parliament in Brussels.



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