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Climate change, securitisation and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict



Securitisation theory serves as a useful corrective to the ‘climate determinism’ evident in mainstream debates on the security effects of climate change, but there are divergences within this approach over what constitutes ‘successful’ securitisation. For the Copenhagen School, climate change has not been securitised because relevant state actors do not yet accept that emergency measures are necessary to tackle ‘dangerous’ climate risks. In contrast, ‘sociological’ proponents of securitisation theory identify ‘successful’ securitisation evident from climate policies that would not otherwise have been undertaken without the political mobilisation of crisis narratives concerning threats to human and ecosystem health. These marked differences over climate change reflect, I argue, divergent spatialities deployed within securitisation theory. The Copenhagen School posits state-bounded territoriality as the power container dominating global security dynamics, viewing climate change as a weaker, deterritorial source of securitisation. Sociological approaches admit a wider set of security effects arising from the political mobilisation of climate threats because securitisation is claimed to emerge from diverse performative spaces. A critical application of securitisation theory to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict reveals insights from both strands on the outcomes of attempts to portray climate change as a regional security threat. However, I contend that the spatial analytics of securitisation theory miss vertical forms of power that, in the case of Israeli occupational practices, feature use of a climate threat scenario to reinforce processes of military-political domination.