Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity. There are already some significant interactions between climate change, crime and security; and there will surely be many more. Few, if any, of these interactions will be beneficial.
This page presents early thinking on the systematic mapping out of these interactions, in both directions. It is located under the crime and security futures pages, but climate change, its effects and attempts to mitigate it are very much here with us now.
Climate change in general is a topic of pervasive importance and urgency. The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make almost no mention of crime.
The only thing that we can be sure of is that criminals and terrorists will eagerly exploit disruptions and exacerbate problems. These interactions will be significant, whether they concern disaster fraud, looting in storms, adverse childhood events, intergroup conflict resulting from forced migration, or fraudulent carbon-capture services.
With the exception of Robert Agnew (2012) there has been little systematic work on how climate change will interact across the board with crime and security. A 2022 webinar series When climate change intersects crime curated by KTH Stockholm and Northumbria University introduced Agnew’s work and explored a range of more specific issues.
It is important to consider not just the effects of climate change on crime and security, but the converse: how crime and security might affect climate change and attempts to mitigate and adapt to it.
The European Forum on Urban Security set up a working group on urban security and climate change in 2021.
The presentation below, prepared for that working group, is a first attempt to sketch out in systematic detail the issues raised by climate change, mitigations and adaptations, for crime and the provision of security; and vice-versa.
It first sets out the key aspects of climate change – its causes, nature and consequent risks; and attempts to respond by mitigation and adaptation.
Second, turning to crime and security, it briefly maps out the types and causes of crime.
It then considers how crime might be influenced by climate change itself, and society’s responses to it; how crime itself influences climate change, mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Finally, it looks at how security in its turn may be influenced by, and influence, climate change. It is hoped that this mapping exercise will encourage researchers to fill in the many unknowns, by a disciplined application of evidence, theory and horizon-scanning approaches.
Below is the overview slide. In the presentation, the various blocks expand to cover more detail and depth.