Putting the “Crisis” in “Climate Crisis”: The Impact of Securitization on Climate Change Policy

April 3, 2021   /  

Name: Olivia Azzarita
Major: Political Science
Advisor: Dr. John Valdez, Dr. Matthew Krain

In the collective global effort against climate change, some countries take more action than others to reduce their negative impact. My I.S. examines the reasons for this through the lens of Copenhagen School securitization theory, which posits that security threats are socially constructed through speech acts or “securitizing moves” (Buzan, Wæver, and de Wilde 1998). I hypothesize that when government actors frame climate change as a security threat, as opposed to a risk or a normal political issue, climate change mitigation policy will be more effective. In this study, I compare the framing of climate change and the policy response to climate change in three industrialized countries, which as a state type contribute the most to climate change through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and are therefore the most in need of climate performance improvement. Countries were chosen based on the effectiveness of their policy relative to other industrial and post-industrial countries, measured on the independently conducted Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) from 2010 through 2020. I found that individual securitizing moves are connected to improvements in climate policy performance within countries, but that securitizing moves only have lasting effects if they succeed in changing the political culture surrounding climate change. Even in the case where climate change is fully securitized and the country performs well on the CCPI, current policy performance is not at a level sufficient to meet international goals in any industrialized country.

Olivia will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)