Climate Change, Security and Peace: The Role of the European Union

Angela Liberatore


Climate change has been at the core of the European Union’s (EU) environmental policy since 1988 and has been integral to its pursuit of international leadership to foster multilateral climate protection. Both the EU and the international community highlighted climate change as a major security issue in 2007. This article examines the arguments that underpinned that policy turn and explores their implications for the Union and for international efforts to address the challenge of climate change. More specifically, this analysis assesses what it has meant for the EU to define climate change as a security issue. It asks whether this shift represents a deepening of the projection of the EU as civilian power and of its commitment to effective multilateralism and peace-building or a ‘securitisation’ of climate change policy and of the international leadership role sought by the EU. The article concludes by positing three alternative scenarios that suggest different ways in which the role of the EU and its linking of climate change and security may evolve in coming years.

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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