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Hope vs fear: climate change as a security issue

What is the best way to motivate and mobilise people?

What does it mean to call a climate emergency? Military and security experts have warned that as temperatures continue to rise, so too will security risks, including in extreme cases, the risk of armed conflict. 

The world now needs to consider broader security strategies that protect our environment before and after climate emergencies. In extreme cases, security measures include safeguarding the survival of entire communities, such as small Pacific islands, that could be entirely submerged by rapidly rising sea levels.

Such responses demand mass mobilisation of governments, infrastructure and individuals around the globe. Is this achieveable? Recently 7.6 million people around the world provided the strongest demonstration yet that the answer is yes, when they united for climate change strikes to advocate for more decisive action.

Is it worrying and/or unavoidable that climate change is turned into a security issue? How do we imagine the future of democracy and international relations around a ‘climate emergency’?

This event was co-presented with the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC). It was held on Monday 11 November, 2019 at the University of Sydney.

The speakers

Ole is a Professor of International Relations at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, founder of the Centre for Advanced Security Theory, and Director of the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts.

Internationally he is mostly known for coining within security theory the concept of 'securitisation' and as one of the main figures in developing what is often referred to as the 'Copenhagen School' in security studies. His most recent writings in relation to securitisation theory have applied the theory to religion and climate change.

Jess was first elected to council in 2016, and is one of the youngest people to hold elected office at the City of Sydney. Jess served as Deputy Lord Mayor from 2017-18. Jess is currently Deputy Chair of the Environment Committee and the Cycling Advisory Committee, and a member of the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.

Jess is known for her creative and inclusive approaches to sustainability, strategy and innovation. Jess co-founded GreenUps Sustainability Drinks, Grow it Local and the Elizabeth Street Gallery, and she has worked on the Garage Sale Trail, Tweed Ride and Grow Show – which featured an enormous veggie patch and education programs outside Melbourne Town Hall.

Charlotte's interests are in the areas of international relations theory, particularly in post-structuralist approaches and discourse theory, critical security studies and global environmental politics.

In her book, The Power of Words in International Relations: Birth of An Anti-Whaling Discourse, she approaches the topic of whaling both as an object of analysis in its own right and as a lens for examining the role of discursive power in international relations.

Olivia is a fourth-year law student at the University of Sydney. She is also the president of Waste Fighters Society, which is aimed at making sustainable action enjoyable and do-able. 

Event image: Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

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