Climate change and environmental security: For whom the discourse shifts


This article explores the implications of the April 2007 United Nations Security debate on the security dimensions of a changing climate for international climate change politics. Specifically, our analysis focuses on whether and how security concerns have been addressed in past international political debates on climate change and considers whether the Security Council debate, which emphasized the threat of climate-related conflict, reflects a discursive shift. We elaborate on two general discourses on the relationship between environment and security, which we call environmental conflict and environmental security. Using content and discourse analysis, we demonstrate that both the historical climate change debate and the more recent Security Council debate have been informed by the environmental security discourse, meaning that a discursive shift has not taken place. We conclude by considering the possibility of a future discursive shift to the environmental conflict perspective and argue that such a shift would be counterproductive to the search for an effective global response to climate change. © 2009 International Studies Association.

Publication Title

International Studies Perspectives