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Seven questions for the G7: Superforecasting climate-fragility risks for the coming decade

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Executive Summary

The climate crisis is increasingly recognised as an impediment to peace and stability, particularly in fragile contexts. Research has highlighted how the impacts of climate change can compound existing fragility, thereby increasing the likelihood of population displacement, food insecurity, international conflicts over water, instability in countries dependent on fossil fuel exports and fragility in megacities, among other risks. At the same time, effective multilateral action to reduce emissions and manage the cascading effects of climate change impacts can help mitigate the consequences of the climate crisis for peace, stability and human security worldwide. We have a choice— or, rather, many choices.

This report, Seven questions for the G7.
Superforecasting climate-fragility risks for the coming decade, addresses these dimensions of climatelinked fragility to spotlight key areas requiring consistent attention from policymakers over the coming decade. It is the first report of its kind that applies a Superforecasting methodology to climate-related risks to peace and stability. It was commissioned by the multilaterally-backed climate security initiative Weathering Risk. Forecasts were produced by Good Judgment, the world’s most accurate geopolitical and global risk forecasting entity. Recommended policy actions were proposed by adelphi, the leading independent thinkand-do tank in Europe for climate, environment and development.

Using specific forecast metrics, Superforecasters were asked to answer seven questions about climate-related risks over the coming decade until 2031:

  1. How effective will multilateralism be in the next decade, in particular around the global climate regime?

  2. To what extent will climate change strengthen international solidarity?

  3. How and where will climate change fuel instability across fragile settings around the world?

  4. How much and where will food prices fuel instability across fragile settings around the world?

  5. As climate change impacts intensify, where and to what extent will megacities in lowand lower-middle-income countries become more fragile?

  6. Where will stresses on water governance increase security risks?

  7. Will oil-producing countries remain stable in a decarbonising world economy?

Taken together, the forecasts from the Superforecasters paint an alarming picture of the world in 2031: our planet will (still) be on track for disastrous global warming by the end of this century, with insufficient finance available for effective adaptation or mitigation. Climate change will increasingly contribute to population displacement, increased fragility in megacities and spikes in food prices. It will also accelerate factors that could contribute to instability in countries relying on fossil fuel exports, and conflicts between countries sharing river systems.

However, such outcomes are far from inevitable. Policymakers’ action on these risk areas can avert the worst consequences. If they leverage their power, lead by example and constructively engage partners, G7 nations have it in their power to alter two key variables that have informed the Superforecasters’ analysis. First, the fragility risks associated with climate change need to receive more attention from policymakers and peace and development programmers, in order to reduce the negative cascading effects on the stability of economies and societies that the climate change we cannot avoid any more implies. Second, climate action needs to become commensurate with our collective interest in avoiding and preventing climate change as much as we can. Changing these two factors can change the future. Conversely, continuing insufficient action on the climate crisis will lead to an even more pessimistic scenario for the future.

In response to the seven questions set out above, the Superforecasters arrived at these key findings:

  • In November 2021, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) projected a global 2.7°C warming above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Superforecasters see an 84% probability that in 2031 the CAT’s predictions on this same metric will be more than 2.2°C for the year 2100. In other words, Superforecasters expect insufficient climate action until at least 2030 or even 2040.

  • Even though increased climate funding can be expected over the next ten years, it will likely remain insufficient to address growing needs.
    Whatever the exact level of warming at the end of the century, Superforecasters expect that climate change will contribute significantly to global instability in the next decade, particularly in already fragile settings.

  • While Superforecasters do not expect global food prices to have risen dramatically by 2031 due to adaptation and technological developments, many of them foresee at least one major food price spike in the next decade due to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and the possibility of trade restrictions when harvests fail.

  • Superforecasters predict that it is more likely than not that a majority of megacities in low- and lower-middle-income countries will be more fragile in 2031 than they were in 2015, because they suffer from pre-existing fragility, have gaps in infrastructure and are vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

  • A majority of Superforecasters expects that there will not be a deadly interstate conflict explicitly related to water in the countries under investigation before 2032. This forecast does not necessarily imply that incidents of violence in and among these countries will not take place in this period, but that Superforecasters assess that countries are unlikely to use water as a direct justification for conflict.

  • Superforecasters estimate that the world will not wean itself off oil fast enough for decarbonisation to destabilise major oil exporting countries over the next ten years.

Instead, they expect that the growing global middle class will increase our collective reliance on fossil fuels.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Superforecasters’ forecasts and commentary in this report spotlight key indicators that decisionmakers should monitor over the next decade. They also imply specific actions that need to be taken now to reduce future risks. Working with partner governments, businesses, researchers and civil society, G7 countries should:

  • develop accountability mechanisms on multilateral climate action;

  • make good on climate finance pledges to support fragile and poorer countries in dealing with the effects of climate change, as well as increase the scale of the $100 billion commitment;

  • integrate climate-security work more systematically into development, humanitarian and peacebuilding sectors and advocate for incorporating the security effects of climate change into multilateral fora and institutions, strategies, policies and programmes;

  • help ensure sustainable, inclusive and resilient food supply chains, invest in climate-smart agriculture and advocate for actions to transform agri-food systems towards green and climate resilient practices;

  • advocate for and invest in climate-smart programmes for urban centres to help cities build climate resilience and realise climate adaptation ambitions;

  • enhance efforts to build and strengthen transboundary institutions that can promote joint assessment, planning and risk management of shared waters, especially with a view to adapting to, and building resilience against climate change impacts and related uncertainty;

  • seek to engage partners in countries dependent on fossil fuel exports with a view to delineating evolutionary pathways that limit the destabilising effects of the energy transition, not least by facilitating new forms of energy-related cooperation around renewables and (green) hydrogen.

A full set of recommendations proposed by experts at adelphi is included at the end of this report.