Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2012, Vol. 67 ›› Issue (6): 853-863.doi: 10.11821/xb201206012

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Influence Path and Effect of Climate Change on Geopolitical Pattern

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

  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:2012-01-09 Revised:2012-04-17 Online:2012-06-20 Published:2012-08-13
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171110; Independent Innovation Projects of the IGSNRR, No.200904003; Strategic Priority Research Program, No.XDA05010205

Abstract: 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. Under the drive of climate change, new changes have taken place in the evolution of geopolitical patterns. (1) Geopolitical contention expands into new fields and regions. (2) Measures and tools of geopolitical contention have become more diversified. (3) Main bodies of geopolitical gambling can be divided into defferent groups. With the development of politicization, climate change has become the driving force to have significant influence on the evolution of geopolitical patterns. Measures, sphere and contents of geopolitical contention changed dramatically, carbon emission permits, carbon tariff, new energy technology turned into the key points of geopolitical contention. Climate change acts on the evolution of geopolitical pattern through three main paths: "Trace back effect", "Feedback effect" and "Ripple effect", and they exert influence on geopolitical pattern in three aspects: "Traceability effect", "Depression effect" and "Diffusion effect". We draw several conclusions from the analysis: (1) climate change tends to be one of the most active driving forces to have impact on the evolution of geopolitical patterns 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 such as energy and grain, and the geopolitical means can be used in a more secretive way; (3) low carbon economy, 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 climate change negotiations and geopolitical competition in the future.

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