Environmental exodus Securitizing the threat of climate change

The threat of migration posed by climate change has entrenched itself within the political agenda to the extent that developed states are investing a sizeable amount of time and resources to study the risks that it poses to security. A report commissioned by the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment (ONA) that was to prove embarrassing to the Bush administration called for climate change to be 'elevated beyond scientific debate to a US national security concern'. It also claimed that 'the impacts of climate change could potentially de-stabilize the geopolitical environment, leading to skirmishes, battles, and even war due to resource constraints' (Schwartz and Randall, 2003).

A number of events have also been dedicated to the subject,2 such as the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI) conference Climate Change - the Global Security Impact in January 2007, which also explored the potential of terrorist extremists using climate change to their own advantage. Similarly, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment stated that 'environmental policy in the 21st century is also economic policy, energy policy, security policy'. Echoing these sentiments, Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientific adviser, expressed concern that 'climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism'.

The securitization of climate change has found expression in a number of military strategic reviews dedicated to assessing the high-risk areas around the world (Quality of Life Policy Group, 2007).

The CNA Corporation report (a panel of retired senior US military officers) points to the potential for 'racial and religious tensions' as well as 'violence between migrants and natives' as resources become scarce among overburdened communities (CNA Corporation, 2007). In a report published in 2007, the Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) claimed that 'food and water insecurity will drive mass migration from some worst affected areas and the effects may be felt in more affluent regions' (DCDC, 2007). Subsequently, the MoD has announced its decision to fund a UKĀ£12 million research contract with the Met Office Hadley Centre's climate change experts to identify regions of the world where global warming could spark conflict and security threats (Adam, 2007).

This has spawned a plethora of studies exposing the alleged linkages between climate change, migration and conflict. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) proclaimed that climate change will trigger numerous conflicts over the management of migration and that strengthening the most vulnerable countries' adaptive capacities would 'make it easier for them to remain in their homes' (WBGU, 2007). Gledistch et al (2007) also indicate the possibility of conflict from environmentally induced migration. Meanwhile Jon Barnett is more cautious about the likelihood of such conflict, but admits that 'climate-induced conflicts are most likely as a result of migration' (Barnett, 2001).

0 0

Post a comment