Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (6): 1117-1130.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0986-2

• Human-Environment Interactions • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Influence path and effect of climate change on geopolitical pattern

WANG Limao1, GU Mengchen1,2, LI Hongqiang1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2012-07-12 Revised:2012-08-09 Online:2012-12-15 Published:2012-12-15


Marked by the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009, climate change is shaping the new pattern for future geopolitics with unprecedented drive. Climate change has surpassed the category of pure environment problem and become a focal issue in international relations. Driven by climate change, new changes have taken place in the evolution of geopolitical pattern. (1) Geopolitical contention expands into new fields and regions. (2) Measures and tools of geopolitical contention become more diversified. (3) Main bodies of geopolitical gambling are divided into different groups. With the development of politicization, climate change has become the significant driving force that can influence the evolution of geopolitical pattern. Measures, sphere and contents of geopolitical contention changed dramatically, carbon emission permits, carbon tariff and new energy technology turned into the key points of geopolitical contention. Climate change acts on the evolution of geopolitical pattern through three main paths: “Feedback effect”, “Trace back effect”, and “Ripple effect”, and they exert influence on geopolitical pattern with three impacts: “Depression effect”, “Traceability effect”, and “Diffusion effect”. We draw several conclusions from the analysis: (1) Climate change gradually becomes one of the most active driving forces to impact on the evolution of geopolitical pattern in the present world and it diversifies the geopolitical targets. (2) Climate change generates new geopolitical tools. The developed countries use climate change as a “Lever” to pry strategic resources like energy and grain and the geopolitical means are in a more secretive way. (3) Low-carbon technology, with new energy technology as the core, becomes the key factor of geopolitical influence and power transition. Those who can take advantage of new energy technologies will occupy the leading position in future’s climate change negotiations and geopolitical competition.

Key words: climate change, geopolitics, influence path, influence effect