University of Sussex: Syrischer Bürgerkrieg hat nichts mit dem Klimawandel zu tun

Wie oft mussten wir lesen und hören, dass der Bürgerkrieg in Syrien ein Paradebeispiel dafür wäre, wie der Klimawandel zu Aggressionen und Klimaflüchtlingen führen würde. Der anthopogene Klimawandel hätte zu Dürren geführt, die dann Wanderungsbewegungen führten, welche dann den Krieg auslösten. Kaum jemand hat diese Logik richtig hinterfragt, denn sie klang gerecht und in den heutigen Zeitgeist passend. Ein Wissenschaftlerteam um Jan Selby hat die Behauptung jetzt trotzdem systematisch geprüft und kam zu einem ernüchternden Ergebnis: Es spricht sehr wenig dafür, dass der Klimawandel einen Beitrag zum Bürgerkrieg in Syrien geleistet hat. Dieses im September 2017 im Fachblatt Political Geography publizierte Ergebnis mag zwar gar nicht in den herrschenden Zeitgeist passen, nähert sich aber dafür der unspektakulären Wahrheit an. Hier der Abstract der Studie, der für sich spricht:

Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited
For proponents of the view that anthropogenic climate change will become a ‘threat multiplier’ for instability in the decades ahead, the Syrian civil war has become a recurring reference point, providing apparently compelling evidence that such conflict effects are already with us. According to this view, human-induced climatic change was a contributory factor in the extreme drought experienced within Syria prior to its civil war; this drought in turn led to large-scale migration; and this migration in turn exacerbated the socio-economic stresses that underpinned Syria’s descent into war. This article provides a systematic interrogation of these claims, and finds little merit to them. Amongst other things it shows that there is no clear and reliable evidence that anthropogenic climate change was a factor in Syria’s pre-civil war drought; that this drought did not cause anywhere near the scale of migration that is often alleged; and that there exists no solid evidence that drought migration pressures in Syria contributed to civil war onset. The Syria case, the article finds, does not support ‘threat multiplier’ views of the impacts of climate change; to the contrary, we conclude, policymakers, commentators and scholars alike should exercise far greater caution when drawing such linkages or when securitising climate change.

Die University of Sussex gab zur Studie die folgende Pressemitteilung heraus:

New research disputes claims that climate change helped spark the Syrian civil war

A new study, published today in the journal Political Geography, shows that there is no sound evidence that global climate change was a factor in causing the Syrian civil war.

Claims that a major drought caused by anthropogenic climate change was a key factor in starting the Syrian civil war have gained considerable traction since 2015 and have become an accepted narrative in the press, most recently repeated by former US vice president Al Gore in relation to Brexit. This study, led by Professor Jan Selby at the University of Sussex, takes a fresh look at the existing evidence for these claims as well as conducting new research into Syrian rainfall data and the experiences of Syrian refugees.

Professor Jan Selby, Director of the Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research at the University of Sussex, says: “Our paper finds that there is no sound evidence that global climate change was a factor in sparking the Syrian civil war. Indeed, it is extraordinary that this claim has become so widely accepted when the scientific evidence for it is so thin.

“Global climate change is a very real challenge, and will undoubtedly have significant conflict and security consequences, but there is no good evidence that this is what was going on in this case. It is vital that experts, commentators and policymakers resist the temptation to make exaggerated claims about the conflict implications of climate change. Overblown claims not based on rigorous science only risk fueling climate scepticism.”

Professor Selby worked on the study with Christiane Fröhlich from the University of Hamburg’s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), Omar Dahi from Hampshire College, and Mike Hulme from King’s College London. Their article is published in a special section of the journal Political Geography, the leading outlet worldwide for the study of climate-conflict linkages. The article is accompanied by three responses from leading US-based academics, and a rejoinder from Selby and colleagues. All are available open access for a limited period.

Selby and colleagues’ article finds that:

  1. Although northeast Syria did experience an exceptionally severe drought prior to its civil war, this drought was not necessarily caused by human influences on the global climate;
  2. Though the 2006/07 to 2008/09 drought did contribute to migration away from northeast Syria, this was on nothing like the scale which has been claimed (most likely 40-60 thousand families, rather than the 1.5 million people often quoted), and was probably more caused by economic liberalisation than by the drought;
  3. There exists no meaningful evidence that drought-related migration was a contributory factor in the onset of the civil war.

Mike Hulme at King’s College London led original analysis of Syrian rainfall data, which showed the precise geographical and temporal limits of the 3-year drought. He says: “The drought in northeastern Syria was undoubtedly very severe, but is not necessarily part of a desiccating trend and cannot unambiguously be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Christiane Fröhlich from the University of Hamburg’s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN) conducted interviews with Syrian refugees in Jordan with experiences of the pre-civil war drought. She says: “We need to bring the lived experience of those affected by global environmental change in to the scientific study of global warming in order to gain a fuller understanding of how its effects impact different parts of a society to varying degrees.”

Omar Dahi at Hampshire College says that: “Many aspects of Syria before and after March 2011 are widely accepted as fact despite little evidence. The climate change thesis is one of them, endlessly repeated without being properly interrogated.”

Ein weitere Studie warnt vor zu schnellen Interpretationen. Vally Koubi veröffentlichte am 23. Oktober 2017 im Fachblatt Current Climate Change Reports den folgenden Artikel:

Climate Change, the Economy, and Conflict

In den Conclusions heißt es:

“…these studies show there is no robust evidence for a “direct” climate-economy-conflict connection. Instead, they provide considerable suggestive evidence that climate-driven economic downturns lead to conflict in agricultural dependent regions and in combination and interaction with other socioeconomic and political factors.”