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Environmental Change as Security Dilemma and its Institutional Implications

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Author(s): Serhat Ünaldi

Journal: Transcience : a Journal of Global Studies
ISSN 2191-1150

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 53;
Date: 2012;
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ABSTRACT
Climate change poses a threat to the security and well-being of people in all countries. Their governments are entrusted with the task of guaranteeing this security in the face of un- usual weather phenomena, extreme climatic conditions and conflicts resulting from scarcity and climate-induced migration. Whereas traditional security threats took the form of inter-state conflicts and have often been met at the national level – for example through military means –, climate change as a global phenomenon seems to call for new types of action. Some have argued for an overhaul of political institutions to meet the climate challenge. Solutions offered range from world government to decentralized sub-state entities. Yet, as will be argued, climate change is imminent and needs to be tackled now. This leaves little room for Utopian political visions. In discussing different approaches developed in the field of International Relations as they relate to climate change and security, this article argues for an acknowledgement of climate change as a new type of security dilemma. It then proceeds to defend the suitability of current international institutions for solving problems posed by climate change. Firstly, they are the only institutions currently available. Secondly, they are both immune to overt centralization as well as big enough to develop and implement sustainable solutions. Most hope lies with clusters of countries working together and setting examples that might eventually be followed elsewhere.

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