In This Review

Climate Change and European Security
Climate Change and European Security
By Richard Youngs
Routledge, 2015, 144 pp

Youngs makes the case for more decisive European action on climate change by linking environmental risks to emerging security threats. He argues that ecological stress and disasters will trigger violent conflict, border tensions, resource scarcity, economic disputes, democratic instability, increased migration, and global power shifts. Curiously, however, this book does as much to undermine its case as to make it. It demonstrates that EU officials and politicians talk a great deal about the relationship between the environment and security but have done little to address it, in large part because the link remains abstract and the concrete policy solutions unclear. Youngs’ theoretical arguments for a coordinated Brussels-based approach rest on a simplistic and misapplied dichotomy whereby “realists” predict rivalry and independent pursuit of material interest and “liberals” foresee multilateral cooperation and environmental priorities. His practical proposals for fighting climate change are logistically and politically daunting, requiring heavy lifting by national militaries, UN agencies, crisis-prevention groups, development institutions, and a wide range of interest groups. It’s worth wondering whether the attention paid to this trendy issue might be better applied elsewhere.