Environmental migration and international political security

Rhetoric, reality and questions

Authored by: Stern Mwakalimi Kita , Clionadh Raleigh

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Displacement and Migration

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138194465
eBook ISBN: 9781315638843
Adobe ISBN:


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There is now a growing consensus that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are leading to unprecedented transformations in the Earth’s climate, and that climate change may soon displace large numbers of people living in the Global South. However, the vast majority of writing about international policy on climate-induced displacement has been confined to a relatively narrow field of scholars, international aid workers and politicians whose general aim has been to highlight possible strategies for preventing what could be a major humanitarian disaster. This chapter explores the politics of engaging in preventative action that expands the rights of populations displaced domestically and internationally as a result of climate change. It compares and contrasts the national security framing of climate-induced displacement with human security writing about livelihoods, household decision-making and economic migration. It then explores the policies that donors, international institutions and nation-states may use in supporting economic as opposed to distress migration, making the case that ambitious policy statements favouring preventative action through economic migration (e.g. expanding immigration quotas, relocating populations) need to recognize the national – and increasingly nationalist – rhetoric that is now shaping the politics of immigration in Western liberal democracies.

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