Climate change helped to spawn ISIS and the attacks in Paris may be an attempt to undermine the forthcoming COP21 negotiations. A severe drought may have contributed to the rise of radical revolutionary sentiments that coalesced into ISIS. While many have dismissed this as fiction it is borne out by a number of studies. Independent research has demonstrated that climate change exacerbates social tensions and can lead to conflict. his is especially true in the levant which encompasses both Iraq and Syria, the geographical birth place of ISIS. These findings are corroborated by a 2014 Department of Defense report which identified climate change as the cause of instability that can lead to the rise of extremism.
There are several reasons why ISIS may have chosen to attack Paris. Even before the most recent round of air strikes, France had been involved in the war against ISIS. There is also a large number of disaffected youth of Islamic origin who are an ideal recruiting pool for ISIS. However, a strong argument can be made that the real goal of the attacks in Paris is the disruption of COP21. This is the most important climate talks ever held, we are on the brink of witnessing the signing of one of the most comprehensive global agreement in history. If as expected COP21 produces a global climate agreement, it would reflect a degree of unity never before seen in the world.
ISIS is rightly afraid of a sane humanitarian response to such things as the refugee crisis. It detracts from their ability to vilify the secular world. They are also afraid of an international agreement that would bring the world together for the common purpose of combating climate change. A unified world is counterproductive to the divisive extremism of terror organizations. Their existence is premised on dividing the world into believers (the faithful) and non believers (apostates).
It is also worth noting that there is a very pragmatic side to the Paris attacks. By undermining the COP21 talks ISIS is trying to protect its oil interests. Oil is the very thing that COP21 will have to limit if we are to have a chance of staving off the worst impacts of climate change. Given that oil funds the ISIS war machine (half a billion dollars a year) a decrease in the price of oil represents a threat to its very survival.
Carbon constraints and the call for renewable sources of energy emanating from COP21 will reduce demand for oil and put strong downward pressure on already low oil prices.
Climate change is a threat multiplier. As Bernie Sanders said, “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world — this is what the CIA says — they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops, and you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.”
The best thing we can do to combat ISIS is to push forward with COP21 and that is exactly what France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius assured the world that he would do. “It will be held with enhanced security measures but it is absolutely essential action against climate and of course it will be held,” Fabius said.
As quoted by Kenyan journalist Nicholas Mungai Waigwa the Chairperson of the National Confederation of Dalit Adivasi Organizations (NACDAOR) Ashok Bharti said:
“We believe this kind of attack has been inflicted to divert the attention of the people and the government from the epoch making COP21…France will not use this attack to prevent people from taking part and voicing their concerns during the COP21.”
Islamic countries also continue to show their support for the COP process. Pakistan’s Chief Executive of the Development Alliance (PDA), Mohamed Zia-ur-Rehman said:
“We hope that this carnage by a handful of sick minded terrorists will not be able to undermine the strengths of peaceful people across the world, especially in France. We strongly hope that this would not restrict us and our leaders to move ahead with COP21.”
Stephen Cheboi of Action2015/Kenya said:
“We can not achieve our targets to end poverty, inequalities and climate change if allow terrorists to reign our world.”
Finally on Sunday November 15, Christiana Figueres tweeted:
“Of course #COP21 proceeds as planned. Even more so now. #COP21 = respecting our differences & same time acting together collaboratively.”