The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its Sixth Assessment Report in August 2021. Summarizing the state of scientific understanding about the role of human influence on climate change and possible climate futures it provided the starkest warning yet of the bleak future that awaits the planet, and its inhabitants should humanity not change its fossil-fuel habits. As U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres put it, the report sounded a "code red for humanity."
It is against this backdrop, that NUPI is delighted to welcome Matt McDonald to discuss his new book with Cambridge University press, Ecological Security: Climate Change and the Construction of Security. This timely book provides a radical and unusually comprehensive normative framework – a “ecosystem security” approach - for guiding human efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change; one that McDonald argues provides the world offers a superior approach to those currently employed within the Climate Security policy agenda. Spread over 7 chapters, the book moves in three steps: (1) it conducts an analysis of the dominant climate security discourses and their deficiencies, (2) lays out an ethical case for ecosystem security, and (3) explores the “immanent possibilities” within existing institutions for advancing ecological security in practice. At each step of the way, McDonald draws upon an eclectic array of critical scholarship and spends considerable space engaging in good faith with would be skeptics. Indeed, McDonald’s book offers a tour de-forces and model for how to combine classic critique of the status quo with a positive normative vision, and most unusually, a sustained analysis of how to practically bring it about.
Matt McDonald is Associate Professor in International Relations in the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland. A leading scholar of global environmental politics and critical security studies he is the author of Security, the Environment and Emancipation (Routledge, 2012), co-author (with Anthony Burke and Katrina Lee-Koo) of Ethics and Global Security (Routledge, 2014) and author of Ecological Security (Cambridge UP, 2021). He is currently working on an Australian Research Council-funded project examining comparative national responses to the security implications of climate change.