Climate Refugees and Security: Conceptualizations, Categories, and Contestations

Timothy Doyle and Sanjay Chaturvedi

in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566600
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Climate Refugees and Security: Conceptualizations, Categories, and Contestations

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This article is concerned with one subcategory of the broader climate debate: the climate refugee. It uses the IPCC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) three climate change-related categories of human migration or population displacement — drought incidence, increased cyclone (hurricanes and typhoons) intensity and sea-level rise — to initially describe how this phenomenon is usually presented and categorized. The very concept of climate refugee is one, which is firmly entrenched in the literature of international relations. This article questions the validity of the climate refugee category, arguing that far from providing succor and solace to the most vulnerable communities within the global South, the climate refugee is a subject of securitization. Furthermore, this article introduces three theoretical frames: realist, liberal, and critical frameworks and use them as a means of coming to terms with diverse prescriptive positions, advocating very different approaches to both mitigation and adaption strategies to alleviate climate displacement and migration.

Keywords: climate refugees; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; human migration; population displacement; securitization

Article.  6884 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Public Policy ; International Relations

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