Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Political Science (POLS)

First Advisor

Kerstin Fisk

Second Advisor

Feryal Cherif


The prediction that climate change will cause conflict is at its core based on the assumption that climate change will trigger resource scarcity, resulting in displaced peoples and potentially violent conflict. However, the empirical evidence supporting this phenomenon is highly uncertain and at times directly contradictory. In recent decades, some have claimed that climate change’s exacerbation of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts have already played major roles in conflicts such as the Syrian Civil War (Selby 2019). Others directly dispute this direct effect, arguing instead that climate change has played only a minor role in influencing the severity or duration of conflict (Buhaug 2010). This signals that researchers need to move toward theorizing and testing factors which link to the indirect pathways from climate change to conflict, such as climate induced migration. In light of recent work that emphasizes indirect pathways between climate-related variables and conflict, my research aims to determine the conditions under which environmental migration will cause conflict (Brzoska and Fröhlich 2016). I perform a case study analysis in order to analyze how the combination of extreme weather events, government capacity, and the vulnerability migrants and displaced peoples affects the likelihood of conflict. My cases of India and Bangladesh offer varied state capacity, while maintaining consistency of weather events and keeping the demographic of displaced people as similar as possible. My findings further the argument that state capacity is a crucial factor in mitigating conflict related to climate change induced displacement. By conducting a case study analysis, my research is able to increase certainty through a thorough examination of the many variables present and concludes that weak government infrastructure and rescue response both before and after climate disasters together heighten the potential for conflict.