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2020 | Book

The Securitisation of Climate Change and the Governmentalisation of Security


About this book

This book provides an in-depth analysis of the securitisation of climate change in the US, Germany and Mexico and offers a rethinking of securitisation theory. Resting on a Foucauldian governmentality approach, it discusses how different climate security discourses have transformed the political handling of climate change and affected policies, practices and institutions. Going beyond the literature’s predominant focus on the global level, it gives a fine-grained examination of the political and institutional changes in different national contexts. Drawing on the governmentalisation of security, the book develops a new understanding of securitisation that focuses on the role of power. In doing so, it provides new insights into the transformative potential of linking climate change to security but also highlights the political and normative pitfalls of securitisation.

‘In this important book, Franziskus von Lucke provides a theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich account of the relationship between security and climate change. Developing a Foucauldian-inspired account of securitization, the book rejects blanket or universal claims about the climate change- security relationship, instead insisting on the need to critically examine how the securitization of climate change plays out in particular empirical contexts. Exploring the cases of the US, Germany and Mexico, von Lucke points to distinctive dynamics of securitization in these settings, with different implications for the practices these in turn encourage. Ultimately, this book constitutes an important addition to literature on the relationship between climate change and security, while developing a distinct and nuanced account of securitization that will be of interest to a wide range of scholars of security in international relations.’

—Associate Professor Matt McDonald is a Reader in International Relations at the University of Queensland, Australia

‘In 2019 a number of states and other actors (notably the European Union) have made climate emergency declarations. It is therefore more important than ever to understand what the securitization of the climate means. That is: Who can securitize? What security measures are likely/ deemed legitimate by relevant audiences? How does securitization affect the population within and outside a securitizing state? And perhaps most importantly of all, will it succeed? Franziskus von Lucke’s carefully researched book offers answers to all of these questions and many others besides. von Lucke proceeds by examining with the US, Mexico and Germany, three real-life empirical cases of climate securitization. Each one provides unique insights that enable a fuller understanding of climate security. Accessibly written this is a must read for scholars and practitioners alike.’

—Dr Rita Floyd, University of Birmingham, UK, author of The Morality of Security: A theory of just Securitization, CUP, 2019

With great empirical detail and conceptual clarity, the book compares discourses and practices of climate security in different contexts. An essential reading for anyone interested in international climate politics, securitization theory, governmentality and the notion of power in International Relations.

—Dr Delf Rothe, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy Hamburg at the University of Hamburg, Germany

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction and Theoretical Framework
The first part of this chapter discusses how the security implications of climate change have become an issue in academic and political debates and how this relates to the main puzzle of the book, that is, to understand multiple securitisations and their political effects. The second part introduces a novel theoretical approach to securitisation. Based on Foucault’s ‘power triangle’, the chapter develops three ideal-typical climate security discourses that guide the empirical analysis. The chapter argues that a power-centred approach can better grasp the manifold forms of securitisation in contemporary political debates because it helps to understand the continuous transformation of security, sheds light on the constitution of security subjects and objects, and contextualises the bidirectional political and the normative consequences of linking non-traditional issues to security.
Franziskus von Lucke
Chapter 2. United States: Climate Change, National Security and the Climatisation of the Defence Sector
This chapter explores the securitisation of climate change in the US. It finds that while all three climate security discourses played a role, from the mid-2000s onwards climate change was predominately constructed as an immediate threat to US national security and linked to the exercise of sovereign power. Apart from raising attention and helping to bridge political divides, this led to a ‘climatisation’ of the security and defence sector by incorporating climate threats into key policies and practices. It also helped to constitute defence institutions as legitimate and influential actors in the ‘fight’ against climate change. Besides some positive effects on US climate policy, this mainly focused the debate on the symptoms of climate change, hence neglecting long-term, multilateral solutions to tackle its root causes.
Franziskus von Lucke
Chapter 3. Germany: Climate Change, Human Security and Southern Populations
This chapter looks at the securitisation of climate change in Germany. In contrast to the US, the disciplinary and governmental discourses and the argumentation of climate change as a risk to the human security of poor populations in the Global South prevailed. This helped to legitimise progressive climate policies, coin concepts such as ‘climate diplomacy’ and ‘climate foreign policy’, and had a significant impact on German development policy. Moreover, it legitimised a different set of actors mainly consisting of research institutions, civil society actors and development organisations. This form of securitisation avoided a one-dimensional and short-sighted focus on the symptoms of climate change. Nonetheless, it contributed to a problematic juxtaposition of a climate resilient and powerful Global North, with an ‘unruly’, unprepared and victimised Global South.
Franziskus von Lucke
Chapter 4. Mexico: Analysing Securitisation in the Global South
Looking at Mexico, this chapter finds a less widespread securitisation than in the other cases, not least due to a politicisation of climate change as an issue of global justice and economic opportunity. Nonetheless, climate security discourses were not inconsequential and gained in importance from the mid-2000s. While no discourse dominated, disciplinary and governmental representations and the argumentation of climate change as an overarching risk to Mexico’s population were most common. Apart from influencing climate policies, this helped to integrate climate change into civil protection and insurance schemes and avoided a short-sighted focus on symptoms. In general, this chapter highlights peculiarities of securitisation in the Global South, for example, a lack of domestic securitising actors, a scepticism towards ‘Western’ representations and the role of ‘counter-securitisations’.
Franziskus von Lucke
Chapter 5. Revisiting the Securitisation of Climate Change and the Governmentalisation of Security
This concluding chapter revisits the empirical findings against the backdrop of the theoretical approach. Part I explores the governmentalisation of security and how different climate security discourses have materialised in the case studies. It finds that while the sovereign discourse often generates attention and ‘climatises’ the security sector, the disciplinary discourse is better equipped to legitimise climate and development policies, whereas the governmental discourse incites (de-politicising) risk management approaches. Part II looks at the (powerful) political consequences of securitisation such as agenda setting, politicisation, the constitution of subject positions, objects of governance, as well as ‘security truths’, and concrete policies and practices. Finally, Part III discusses the normative implications of securitising climate change including the role of de-securitisation and alternative ways to generate political attention.
Franziskus von Lucke
The Securitisation of Climate Change and the Governmentalisation of Security
Franziskus von Lucke
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