A woman in the Karamoja region of Uganda amid a hunger crisis, drought, and famine due to the effects of climate change

In Uganda, climate change is leading to longer dry seasons, lowering crop yields and threatening the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists. A surge in violent cattle rustling at the height of planting season exacerbated the situation. Now competition over increasingly limited natural resources could potentially lead to more conflict.

Illegal mining in Colombia, illustrating the deforestation that affects the Amazon and that Petro is trying to combat

The government of newly elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro listed countering deforestation as one of its top priorities. But those efforts promise to raise tensions between the central government and local farmers, who in recent years have been on the receiving end of heavy-handed government efforts to counter deforestation.

1

Decarbonizing energy use by shifting to renewable energies relies on the extraction of minerals and metals that are primarily found in lower-income countries or fragile states. Accessing the critical minerals essential for developing low-carbon energy options brings us to what we might call the dark side of the green transition.

Mining in Bolivia

Resource extraction continues to be a major source of revenue for both developing countries and wealthier nations alike. But the windfalls don’t come without risks. Meanwhile, the environmental impact of fossil fuels is driving the development of renewable energy sources. But the transition is slow to develop.

The Laziska coal-fired power plant near Katowice, Poland, where the U.N. climate change conference was held, Dec. 12, 2018 (Photo by Monika Skolimowska for dpa via AP Images).

The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. But persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change.

In May 2022, Australia’s Labor Party swept back to power with promises to get down to the business of modern climate leadership, and they’ve largely followed through on that promise. But the Labor Party faces an even more daunting challenge in its bid for global climate leadership: Australia is a major fossil fuel exporter.