01 Sep 2023
 | 01 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Tipping cascades between conflict and cooperation in climate change

Jürgen Scheffran, Weisi Guo, Florian Krampe, and Uche Okpara

Abstract. Following empirical research on the dynamics of conflict and cooperation under climate change, we discuss complex transitions and interactions, connected to models of tipping points, compounding and cascading risks. In the context of multiple crisis, pathways in the climate-conflict nexus are analysed, with conflict-relevant conditions, risk indicators and societal responses to compounding effects of conflict risk and climate vulnerability. System and agent models of conflict and cooperation are considered to analyze dynamic trajectories, equilibria, stability, chaos and empirical simulations as well as adaptive decision rules in multi-agent interaction and related tipping, cascading, networking and transformation processes. A bi-stable tipping model is applied to study transitions between conflict and cooperation, depending on internal and external factors as well as multi-layered networks of agents, showing how negative forces can reduce resilience and induce collapse to violent conflict. The case study of Lake Chad is used to demonstrate climate change as a risk multiplier in the model. For poor governance, community behavior is facing low barriers to climate stress which can tilt towards conflict, while resilience can build barriers against it. Narratives confirm that forced migration and militant forces lower the barrier and the chance for cooperation. Adaptive and anticipative governance based on integrative research and agency can prevent and contain climate-induced tipping to violent conflict and induce positive tipping towards cooperative solutions and synergies, e.g. through civil conflict transformation, environmental peacebuilding and forward-looking policies for Earth system stability.

Jürgen Scheffran et al.

Status: open (until 03 Nov 2023)

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Jürgen Scheffran et al.

Jürgen Scheffran et al.


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Short summary
To study tipping cascades in the climate-conflict nexus, a bi-stable tipping model analyses transitions between conflict and cooperation. The Lake Chad case demonstrates climate change as a risk multiplier combined with poor governance, lowering resilience and barriers of communities to conflict. Adaptive and anticipative governance can prevent tipping to violent conflict and induce positive tipping towards cooperation, through civil conflict transformation and environmental peacebuilding.