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Climate change to pose threat to peace in coming years

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LONDON : Climate change poses a threat to peace in the coming decade, according to an annual peace index released yesterday that factored in the risk from global warming for the first time.

Nearly a billion people live in areas at high risk from global warming, and about 40 per cent of them are in countries already struggling with conflict, said the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which compiled the Global Peace Index.

Climate change causes conflict due to competition over diminishing resources and may threaten livelihoods and force mass migration, it said.

IEP executive chairman Steve Killelea told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "We can actually get a much better idea of which countries are most at risk, what are the types of risk and what would be the level of impact before it leads to a break or an implosion within the country."

This year, the world became slightly more peaceful for the first time in five years, said the IEP. However, it remains far less peaceful than 10 years ago.

The effects of climate change can create a "tipping point", said Mr Killelea.

Tackling conflicts may help countries cooperate on global warming, he said. "Unless we have a world which is basically peaceful, it will be impossible to get the levels of trust and cooperation necessary to solve these problems."

World Resources Institute managing director Manish Bapna praised the inclusion of climate change as a factor in conflict risk, saying: "We know that environmental degradation and water stress can lead to hunger, famine and displacement, and combined with economic and political instability, can lead to migration and conflict.

"The fact that climate change is now part of the index underscores how multi-faceted this threat is and how quickly we need to act." - REUTERS