Risky Business: The Ups and Downs of Mixing Economics, Security and Climate Change

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Economic and security motivations increasingly influence the formulation of climate change law and policy worldwide. The way in which notions of economic wellbeing and security are defined and incorporated into climate change law and policy raises fundamental concerns over both the internal and external equity of existing and evolving climate strategies. In particular, a key question that emerges is whether climate policies, based on economic and security considerations, promote more effective mitigation and adaptation strategies or whether they in fact encourage inward-looking, protectionist policies that impair long-term emissions abatement and disadvantage already vulnerable sectors of society. Economic and security concerns can be wielded for great good or great harm in the climate change debate. Drawing upon economic flexibility mechanisms and security-based measures to address climate change can facilitate global cooperation or it can perpetuate existing social, economic and environmental imbalances. The record of implementation thus far suggests that there is an urgent need to reassess the ability of economic flexibility mechanisms to promote long-term, equitable emissions reductions and to pre-emptively introduce equity considerations into the climate security debate. Melding climate change to economics and security makes domestic and international climate change initiatives more politically palatable and more responsive to the realities of global governance. The challenge is to find ways to wield economic and security concerns for the collective good