A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

A Climate of Terror? Climate Change as a Potential Ideological Driver of Terrorism


Key Insights and Findings

  • During the 1990s and early 2000s the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) conducted a series of attacks that resulted in millions of dollars of property damage and serve as the foundation for understanding climate change as a potential ideological driver of terrorism.
  • Presently, there is very little support for significant acts of violence (against persons or property) within the mainstream and leftist environmentalist movement.
  • Significant support exists for continued non-violent civil resistance methods to convince governments and industry to change policies. Support for tactics generally includes blockades, occupations, and selective property damage. Furthermore, while there is substantial support for non-violent civil disobedience, support for property destruction remains low.
  • “Petro-masculinity” coupled with climate denialism and a variety of conspiracy theories have led to specific instances of targeted violence, terroristic tactics, and violence against climate activists, indigenous groups, and elected officials.
  • Neo-Luddites, the Anti-Technology Movement, and “eco-fascists” currently present the most significant concern due to their support for violence against humans and desire to destroy technology assets.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an amount of disillusionment within the mainstream environmentalist movement, and this may shape future ideological and tactical considerations.

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Publication Information

Full Citation:

Boyd, Marcus A. 2022. "A Climate of Terror? Climate Change as a Potential Ideological Driver of Terrorism." College Park, MD: START (May). https://www.start.umd.edu/sites/default/files/publications/local_attachments/Climate_Change_Terrorism_Rapid_Review_2_FINAL.pdf

START Author(s):