Climate change may increase conflict deaths, says IMF

August 30, 2023 - 3:50 PM
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Cracks are seen in the dried up municipal dam in drought-stricken Graaff-Reinet, South Africa, November 14, 2019. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings/File Photo)

JOHANNESBURG Climate change is likely to worsen conflicts in fragile and war-torn states, resulting in higher death rates and greatly reduced GDP, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a report on Wednesday.

The World Bank each year revises a list of countries classed as “fragile and conflict-afflicted states,” of which there are currently 39, and 21 are in Africa. Wednesday’s report covers all 61 countries that have been on the list since 2006.

It found that climate shocks do not cause conflicts, but they worsen existing unrest and exacerbate other underlying fragilities, such as hunger and poverty.

Deaths from conflict as a share of the population could increase by close to 10% in fragile countries by 2060, the IMF said, adding that climate change could also push an additional 50 million people in fragile states into hunger by 2060.

Even though evidence of climate change is mounting after record temperatures across the world over recent months, the political will to take action has been eroded by economic weakness.

African leaders have said richer countries should provide more money to help them adapt to climate change and transition to greener energy, given that most African countries have produced a relatively tiny share of the emissions that cause global warming.

They are expected to try to reach a unified climate negotiating position at the African Climate Summit from Sept. 4-6, ahead of the COP28 UN climate summit in the United Arab Emirates starting at the end of November.

– Reporting by Rachel Savage; editing by Barbara Lewis