Global efforts to address climate change are already clouded by bitterness and distrust among countries of the world.

Now a widening gyre of conflict in the Middle East threatens to fracture an already divided world, raise oil and gas prices at a time of persistently high global inflation and direct financial resources to the business of fighting wars instead of the business of slowing down climate change.

That the fighting between Israel and Hamas is in the middle of an energy-rich region amplifies the risk. It tempts countries to secure their supplies of oil and gas rather than transitioning away from them, even after the hottest summer on record.

The winners so far are the producers of weapons and, to a lesser degree, of oil. Defense stocks have rallied. Oil prices inched up. The historical echoes are chilling, coming 50 years after the Arab oil embargo roiled energy markets. That episode was provoked by the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

All of this makes the next round of climate negotiations, scheduled for late November in the United Arab Emirates, itself a Persian Gulf petrostate, even more complicated.

The next few weeks will be crucial. If the conflict spills across the Middle East, it would likely shatter hopes of mustering global agreement on anything else, including the shared crisis of climate.


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