After the Fires? Climate Change and Security in Australia

Image: Burning / Chiaralily Flickr CC

Event details

IR Seminar

Date & time

Friday 28 February 2020


PSC Reading Room 4.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
Hedley Bull Building


Associate Professor Matt McDonald, University of Queensland


Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert


The devastating bushfires of late 2019/ early 2020 in Australia placed the country firmly in the international spotlight. At the time of writing millions of hectares of forest had been destroyed, whole communities evacuated, dozens of human lives lost and by some estimates over one billion animals killed. The unprecedented scale, number and severity of these fires drew attention to the role of Australia’s changing climate and the broader process of climate change. It also triggered debates about the link between climate change and security, not least given concerns over the deployment of military resources in response to the crisis and the existential nature of the threat the bushfires posed to people and ecosystems across the country. This seminar examines the climate change-security relationship in the Australian context. It examines how climate change and security are related and explores the effects of making this linkage, before assessing the extent to which this connection is reflected in current policy settings and practices in Australia. The seminar concludes by reflecting on whether the bushfire crisis of 2019‒20 is likely to precipitate a major change in policy settings, practices and public debate on climate change and security in Australia.

About the Speaker:

Associate Professor Matt McDonald is a Reader in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland. His research is in the area of critical theoretical approaches to security and their application to issues such as environmental change- especially climate change- and Australian foreign and security policy. He has published on these themes in a range of journals and is the author of Security, the Environment and Emancipation (Routledge, 2012) and co-author of Ethics and Global Security (Routledge, 2014).

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