First Published: 2017-09-08

Did climate change really fuel Syria's civil war?
Study by European, US researchers questions claims that drought helped build tensions that fuelled Syria's civil war.
Middle East Online

By Chris Arsenault TORONTO

Climate change was not a major factor in Syria's long-running civil war, contrary to previous claims that drought helped build tensions that grew violent, a study said on Thursday.

Severe drought pushed rural Syrians into cities where conflicts festered, but the lack of rainfall was not necessarily caused by human-induced climate change, said the study by European and US researchers published in the journal 'Political Geography.' Statements by such public voices as Britain's Prince Charles and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore have linked the violence in Syria with global warming, saying the 2006 drought played a key role in urban migration that helped spark the civil war.

"There is no sound evidence that global climate change was a factor in sparking the Syrian civil war," said University of Sussex Professor Jan Selby, one of the study's co-authors, in a statement.

"It is extraordinary that this claim has been so widely accepted when the scientific evidence is so thin." Syria's civil war started in 2011. Since then an estimated 465,000 people have been killed, and about half of its 22 million residents have been forced to flee their homes.

In a 2015 interview, Prince Charles said there was "very good evidence" that a drought linked to climate change was "one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria." Gore said last month that 1.5 million "climate refugees" were forced to move to cities from rural Syria, fueling the tensions.

The study said at most, 60,000 families were forced to migrate.

"Global climate change is a very real challenge and will undoubtedly have significant conflict and security consequences," Selby said, but analysts must avoid "exaggerated claims about the conflict implications." "Overblown claims not based on rigorous science only risk fuelling climate scepticism," he said.


10 killed in Toronto “deliberate” van attack

Yemen Huthi political leader killed in coalition raid

Rouhani warns Trump against betraying nuclear deal

Saudi king to launch 'entertainment city'

Can Arab satellite TV catch up with social media?

Nine people killed in Toronto van attack

Syria security chief refuses Lebanon court appearance

Air raid kills dozens at Yemen wedding

Algeria draws Europe’s ire by cutting imports, boosting trade with China

Russia says no decision yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

French MPs adopt controversial immigration bill

Qatar Airways ‘robust’ despite large losses

IS threatens to attack Iraqi polling station

Jordan sounds the alarm over rising online crimes

Yemen forces clash with jihadists in Taez

Paris attacks suspect gets 20 years over Brussels shootout

Jailed Egyptian photographer wins UN press freedom prize

14 Saddam-era officials still jailed in Iraq

Gaza death toll rises to 40 as Palestinian dies of wounds

HRW says African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Four British pilgrims killed in Saudi road crash

HRW warns Egypt fight against IS threatens humanitarian crisis

Iran, Israel trade blame for surge in hostilities over Syria

Iran vows to resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

UAE accuses Qatari jets of ‘chasing’ passenger flight

Israel rubbishes claims Mossad behind Malaysia assassination

Syrian refugees are not going home anytime soon

Resumption of direct flights from Moscow brings hope to Egypt’s tourism sector

Saudi finalises drone regulation after security alarm

Will Lebanon have more women MPs after May 6 poll?

Saudi shoots down ‘toy drone’

Mass grave discovered under Raqa football pitch

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy