Implications of transforming climate change risks into security risks

A number of severe weather events have influenced a shift in UK policy concerning how climate-induced hazards are managed. Whist this shift has encouraged improvements in emergency management and preparedness, the risk of climate change is increasingly becoming securitised within policy discourses, and enmeshed with broader agendas traditionally associated with human-induced threats. Climate change is seen as a security risk because it can impede development of a nation. This paper explores the evolution of the securitisation of climate change, and interrogates how such framings influence a range of conceptual and policy focused approaches towards both security and climate change. Drawing upon the UK context, the paper uses a novel methodological approach combining critical discourse analysis and focus groups with security experts and policy makers. The resulting policy landscape appears inexorably skewed towards short-term decision cycles that do little to mitigate longer-term threats to the nation’s assets. Whilst a prominent political action on a global level is required in order to mitigate the root causes (i.e. GHG emissions), national level efforts focus on adaptation (preparedness to the impacts of climate-induced hazards), and are forming part of the security agenda. These issues are not restricted to the UK: understanding the role of security and its relationship to climate change becomes more pressing and urgent, as it informs the consequences of securitising climate change risks for development-disaster risk system.