The Secure and the Dispossessed

Edited by Nick Buxton and Ben Hayes (Pluto Press). Reviewed by Daniel Deering

This book brings together contributions from academics, journalists, and activists working in the intersections of human rights, security and climate change, taking us through securitised and militarised visions of tomorrow’s climate changed world.

The Secure and Dispossessed is not a primer on climate change, the green responses required, or an exposé of climate change sceptics and their funders. Instead, it is a culmination of rigorous research that maps in terrifying detail the neoliberal organisations that are shaping policy responses to climate change.

The book is divided into three parts: ‘The Security Agenda’, ‘Security for Whom?’, and ‘Acquisition Through Dispossession’. The first “examines the way in which states and corporations are seeking to leverage climate change to their own ends”, while the second dissects the prevailing dominant security strategies of global institutions – from the Europe Union to the US military. This section includes the topical chapter ‘From Refugee Protection to Militarised Exclusion’, which guides the reader through a range of repressive militarised solutions that are being designed to thwart the movements of refugees.

Passages in The Secure and Dispossessed, including ‘Chapter 10, Power to the people: Rethinking ‘energy security’ written by The Platform Collective, point to some of the encouraging local and national initiatives that are designing a range of commons-based and collective solutions to meet the new demands of climate change and its impacts. Whether such nascent initiatives can be applied on a global scale ahead of the environmental deadline forecast by climate scientists remains a continuous and contentious area of debate.

Many of the egregious governmental and corporate responses to climate change activism are also dealt with, from the repression of civil disobedience during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris in November and December, to ‘green-washing’, corporate promotion of sustainable activities for commercial marketing purposes. These episodes and the legally non-binding deal that was ultimately agreed at COP21 suggests that the civil society space for global pushback continues to shrink, and with it recedes the opportunity to “reshape the future as we want it to be.”

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