Research page
Centre for International Environmental Studies

Beyond Conflict: Alternative Social Responses to Climate Change

  • Project Lead: Emily Meierding
  • Partner: Liliana Andonova


Much research on social responses to climate change, especially within International Relations and Political Science, has focused on the risk of “climate conflicts”: violent, intra-state contention induced by shifting climatological conditions. This project aims to broaden the scope of analysis by examining alternative individual and group responses to climate change, including cooperative environmental resource management and adjusting patterns of resource usage, including shifts in livelihood and migration.

In its preliminary stage, the project examined the practical and normative consequences of the field’s current focus on climate conflicts. This research has resulted in one publication, Emily Meierding (2013) “Climate Change and Conflict: Avoiding Small Talk About the Weather,” in the International Studies Review. Another, entitled “Disconnnecting Climate Change from Conflict: A Methodological Proposal” is in progress.

The next stage of the project consists of a comparative study of historical responses to drought. Drought is a meteorological, rather than climatological phenomenon, yet it shares some of the key characteristics of climate change, including onsets and trajectories that are non-linear and historically difficult to predict. By examining how actors react to drought, the project will identity a broader range of social responses to environmental change and assess the relative frequency of violent versus non-violent management strategies.