Climate Apartheid and Environmental Refugees

  • Avi Brisman
  • Nigel South
  • Reece Walters


The ideologies and technologies of the global North have long necessitated the forced migration, colonization and ecological plunder of the global South for imperial and capital expansionism. In recent decades, the excesses and demands of a global economy dependent upon unrelenting growth and industrialization have created new victims—entire populations now being dislocated by human-induced climate change—an emerging class of environmental refugees. The impact of climate change exacerbates existing pressures and inequalities related to economics, conflict, urban mega-development and land-use changes—all of which particularly affect the global South—and this chapter utilizes Connell’s (Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 2007) Southern theory to examine critically what has been termed ‘climate apartheid’ and explore its impacts on the increasing number of environmental refugees.


Climate apartheid Climate change Climate change refugee Environmental refugee Global inequality Southern theory 


  1. Aas, K. F. (2013). Globalization & Crime (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Google Scholar
  2. Agnew, R. (2012a). Dire forecast: A theoretical model of the impact of climate change on crime. Theoretical Criminology, 16(1), 21–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Agnew, R. (2012b). It’s the end of the world as we know it: The advance of climate change from a criminological perspective. In R. White (Ed.), Climate Change from a Criminological Perspective (pp. 13–25). London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amster, R. (2015). Peace Ecology. Boulder and London: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Barnes, J. (2015). Scale and agency: Climate change and the future of Egypt’s water. In J. Barnes & M. R. Dove (Eds.), Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change (pp. 127–145). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barnes, J., & Dove, M. R. (2015). Introduction. In J. Barnes & M. R. Dove (Eds.), Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change (pp. 1–21). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barry, E. (2016, November 25). Two children, one poor, one rich, gasping for air in Delhi. The New York Times, A1, A9.Google Scholar
  8. Beirne, P. (1995). The use and abuse of animals in criminology: A brief history and current review. Social Justice, 22(1), 5–31.Google Scholar
  9. Beirne, P. (1997). Rethinking bestiality: Towards a concept of interspecies sexual assault. Theoretical Criminology, 1(3), 317–340. Scholar
  10. Beirne, P. (1999). For a nonspeciesist criminology: Animal abuse as an object of study. Criminology, 37(1), 117–147. Scholar
  11. Beirne, P. (2009). Confronting Animal Abuse: Law, Criminology, and Human-Animal Relationships. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  12. Beirne, P. (2014). Theriocide: Naming animal killing. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 3(2), 49–66. Scholar
  13. Bilimoria, N. (Unpublished Phd). Mapping policies and legal approaches in Fiji for climate-induced cross-border migration by Pacific Islanders. PhD thesis. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology. Unpublished Phd.Google Scholar
  14. Boucher, M. J., & Loring, P. (2017, March 20). Climate change is more than a tech problem, so we need more than a tech solution. Ensia. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from
  15. Bowling, B. (2011). Transnational criminology and the globalization of harm production. In C. Hoyle & M. Bosworth (Eds.), What is Criminology? (pp. 361–379). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Braasch, G. (2013). Climate change: Is seeing believing? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 69(6), 33–41. Scholar
  17. Brisman, A. (2012). The cultural silence of climate change contrarianism. In R. White (Ed.), Climate Change from a Criminological Perspective (pp. 41–70). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Brisman, A. (2013). Not a bedtime story: Climate change, neoliberalism, and the future of the Arctic. Michigan State International Law Review, 22(1), 241–289.Google Scholar
  19. Brisman, A. (2014). The visual acuity of climate change. In P. Davies, P. Francis, & T. Wyatt (Eds.), Invisible Crimes and Social Harms (pp. 61–80). Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. Brisman, A. (2015). ‘Multicolored’ green criminology and climate change’s achromatopsia. Contemporary Justice Review, 18(2), 178–196. Scholar
  21. Brisman, A., & South, N. (2013). Resource wealth, power, crime, and conflict. In R. Walters, D. Solomon Westerhuis, & T. Wyatt (Eds.), Emerging Issues in Green Criminology: Exploring Power, Justice and Harm (pp. 57–71). Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Brisman, A., & South, N. (2017). Green criminology. In A. Liebligh, S. Maruna, & L. McAra (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (6th ed., pp. 329–349). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Cain, M. (2000). Orientalism, occidentalism and the sociology of crime. British Journal of Criminology, 40(2), 239–260. Scholar
  24. Carrington, K., Hogg, R., & Sozzo, M. (2016). Southern criminology. British Journal of Criminology, 56(1), 1–20. Scholar
  25. CNN. (2005, September 4). Patients finally rescued from Charity Hospital. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from
  26. Cohen, S. (1982). Western crime control models in the Third World. In S. Spitzer & R. Simon (Eds.), Research in Law, Deviance and Social Control (Vol. 4, pp. 85–199). Greenwich: JAI Press. (reprinted in Cohen, S. (1988). Against Criminology. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books).Google Scholar
  27. Connell, R. (2007). Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  28. Connell, R. (2017, February). Thunderstorm. Raewyn Connell. Retrieved May 25, 2017, from
  29. Crutzen, P. J. (2006). The ‘Anthropocene’. In E. Ehlers & T. Krafft (Eds.), Earth System Science in the Anthropocene (pp. 13–18). New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Daleszcyk, K., Eycott, A. E., & Tillmann, J. E. (2016). Mammal species exinction and decline: Some current and past case studies of the detrimental influence of man. In F. M. Angelici (Ed.), Problematic Wildlife: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach (pp. 21–44). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. de Sousa Santos, B. (2014). Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide. Boulder: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  32. Debinski, D. M., & Cross, M. S. (2009). Conservation and global climate change. In S. A. Levin (Ed.), The Princeton Guide to Ecology (pp. 557–565). Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. DeKeseredy, W. S. (2013). Pushing the envelope: The current states of North American critical criminology. Paper presented as part of the Presidential Panel: Key Perspectives in Critical Criminology at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, 22 November, Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
  34. DeKeseredy, W. S., & Donnermeyer, J. F. (2013). Thinking critically about rural crime: Toward the development of a new left realist perspective. In S. Winlow & R. Atkinson (Eds.), New Directions in Crime and Deviancy (pp. 206–222). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Donnermeyer, J. (2012). Rural crime and critical criminology. In W. S. DeKeseredy & M. Dragiewicz (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Critical Criminology (pp. 289–301). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Doyle, A. (2015, October 19). South Africa likens draft climate deal to apartheid. Reuters. Retrieved April 9, 2017, from
  37. Eko Atlantic. (2017). About us. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from
  38. Fleming, J. R., & Jankovic, V. (2011). Revisiting Klima. Osiris, 26(1), 1–15. Scholar
  39. Gibbs, C., Gore, M. L., McCarrell, E. F., & Rivers, L., III. (2010). Introducing conservation criminology: Towards interdisciplinary scholarship on environmental crimes and risk. British Journal of Criminology, 50(1), 124–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gillis, J. (2017, January 19). For third year, the Earth in 2016 set heat record. The New York Times, A1. [Published online as: Earth sets a temperature record for the third straight year. 18 January. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from
  41. Goode, E. (2016, December 19). Refugees from an Arctic thaw. The New York Times. A1. [Published online as: Polar bear’s path to decline runs through Alaskan village. 18 December. Retrieved March 16, 2017, form
  42. Goyes, D. R. (2016). Green activist criminology and the epistemologies of the South. Critical Criminology, 26(4), 503–518. Scholar
  43. Goyes, D. R., Mol, H., Brisman, A., & South, N. (in press). Environmental Crime in Latin America: The Theft of Nature and the Poisoning of the Land. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  44. Goyes, D. R., & South, N. (2016). Land grabs, bio-piracy and the inversion of justice in Colombia. British Journal of Criminology, 56(3), 558–577. Scholar
  45. Goyes, D. R., & South, N. (2017). Green criminology before ‘green criminology’: Amnesia and absences. Critical Criminology, 25(2), 165–181. Scholar
  46. Guha-Sapir, D., & Hoyois, P. (2015). Estimating Populations Affected by Disasters’: Review of Methodological Issues and Research Gaps. Brussels: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.Google Scholar
  47. Hogg, R., Scott, J., & Sozzo, M. (2017). Special edition: Southern criminology—Guest editors’ introduction. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 6(1), 1–7. Scholar
  48. Kuletz, V. (1998). The Tainted Desert: Environmental and Social Ruin in the American West. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Kusz, K. W. (2017). Crisis cities: Disaster and development in New York and New Orleans. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Scholar
  50. Latour, B. (2004). Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical Inquiry, 30(2), 225–248. Scholar
  51. Lee, J. R. (2009). Climate Change and Armed Conflict: Hot and Cold Wars. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Leech, G. (2012). Capitalism: A Structural Genocide. New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  53. Lukacs, M. (2014, January 21). New, privatized African city heralds climate apartheid. The Guardian. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from
  54. Lynch, M. J. (1990). The greening of criminology: A perspective on the 1990s. Critical Criminologist, 2(3), 1–4.Google Scholar
  55. Newton, S. (2014, June 26). End times: Oreskes and Conway’s collapse of Western civilization. National Center for Science Education Blog. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from
  56. Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2014). The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Orlove, B., Lazarus, H., Hovelsrud, G. K., & Giannini, A. (2015). How long-standing debates have shaped recent climate change discourses. In J. Barnes & M. R. Dove (Eds.), Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change (pp. 48–81). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  59. Samson, C., & Short, D. (2006). The sociology of indigenous people’s rights. In L. Morris (Ed.), Rights: Sociological Perspectives (pp. 168–185). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  60. Schultz, K. (2017, March 31). As tourists flood the Maldives, so does the rising sea. The New York Times, A8.Google Scholar
  61. Seelye, K. Q. (2001, September 6). Global warming may bring new variety of class action. The New York Times, A14.Google Scholar
  62. Shiva, V. (1997). Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.Google Scholar
  63. Solés, G. (2014, September 25). Walling in the one percent: Eko Atlantic. Urban Voices. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from
  64. Sollund, R. (2011). Expressions of speciesism: The effects of keeping companion animals on animal abuse, animal trafficking and species decline. Crime, Law and Social Change, 55(5), 437–451. Scholar
  65. Sollund, R. (2012). Speciesism as doxic practice versus valuing difference and plurality. In R. Ellefsen, R. Sollund, & G. Larsen (Eds.), Eco-global Crimes, Contemporary Problems and Future Challenges (pp. 91–113). Surrey: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  66. Sollund, R. (2013). The victimization of women, children and non-human species through trafficking and trade: Crimes understood through an ecofeminist perspective. In N. South & A. Brisman (Eds.), Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology (pp. 317–330). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  67. Sollund, R. (2017a). The animal other: Legal and illegal theriocide. In M. Hall, J. Maher, A. Nurse, G. Potter, N. South, & T. Wyatt (Eds.), Greening Criminology in the 21st Century: Contemporary Debates and Future Directions in the Study of Environmental Harm (pp. 79–99). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  68. Sollund, R. (2017b). Doing green, critical criminology with an auto-ethnographic, feminist approach. Critical Criminology, 25(2). Scholar
  69. Sollund, R. (in press). The use and abuse of animals in wildlife trafficking in Colombia: Practices and injustice. In D. Rodríguez Goyes, H. Mol, A. Brisman, & N. South (Eds.), Environmental Crime in Latin America: The Theft of Nature and the Poisoning of the Land. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  70. Sollund, R. A. (2015). The illegal wildlife trade from a Norwegian outlook: Tendencies in practice and law enforcement. In R. A. Sollund (Ed.), Green Harms and Crimes: Critical Criminology in a Changing World (pp. 147–169). Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. South, N. (1998). A green field for criminology? A proposal for a perspective. Theoretical Criminology, 2(2), 211–233. Scholar
  72. South, N. (2007). The ‘corporate colonisation of nature’: Bio-prospecting, bio-piracy and the development of green criminology. In P. Beirne & S. South (Eds.), Issues in Green Criminology: Confronting Harms against Environments, Humanity and other Animals (pp. 230–247). Devon: Willan.Google Scholar
  73. South, N. (2010). The ecocidal tendencies of late modernity: Trans-national crime, social exclusion, victims and rights. In R. White (Ed.), Global Environmental Harm: Criminological Perspectives (pp. 228–247). Cullompton: Willan.Google Scholar
  74. South, N. (2012). Climate change, environmental (in)security, conflict and crime. In S. Farrall, T. Ahmed, & D. French (Eds.), Criminological and Legal Consequences of Climate Change (pp. 97–112). Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  75. South, N. (2014). Green criminology: Reflections, connections, horizons. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 3(2), 6–21. Scholar
  76. South, N., & Beirne, P. (Eds.). (2006). Green Criminology. Aldershot: Dartmouth.Google Scholar
  77. South, N., & Brisman, A. (Eds.). (2013). The Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  78. Takemura, N. (2012). Uncontrollable nuclear power accidents and fatal environmental harm: Why we have not been ready for the impacts of climate change. In R. White (Ed.), Climate Change from a Criminological Perspective (pp. 185–203). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Tonino, L. (2016, April). Two ways of knowing: Robin Wall Kimmerer on scientific and Native American views of the natural world. The Sun 484. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from
  80. Urry, J. (2000). Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-First Century. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  81. Vidal, J. (2011, November 18). Drier, hotter: Can Egypt escape its climate future? The Guardian. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from
  82. Walters, R., Westerhuis, D., & Wyatt, T. (Eds.). (2013). Emerging Issues in Green Criminology: Exploring Power, Justice and Harm. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  83. Weart, S. R. (2003). The Discovery of Global Warming. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  84. White, R. (2009). Environmental Crime: A Reader. Cullompton, Devon: Willan.Google Scholar
  85. White, R. (2014). Environmental insecurity and fortress mentality. International Affairs, 90(4), 835–851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. White, R. (2016a). Criminality and climate change. Nature Climate Change, 6, 737–739. Scholar
  87. White, R. (2016b). The four ways of eco-global criminology. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 6(1), 8–22. Scholar
  88. White, R., & Heckenberg, D. (2014). Green Criminology: An Introduction to the Study of Environmental Harm. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Winsor, M. (2015, November 8). Nigeria’s new city: Eko Atlantic construction in Lagos fuels criticism and praise IBTimes. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from
  90. Wyatt, T., & Brisman, A. (2016). The role of denial in the ‘theft of nature’: A comparison of biopiracy and climate change. Critical Criminology.
  91. Yeung, P. (2016, May 15). Paris climate agreement has ‘failed’ poor countries, report says. The Independent. Retrieved April 11, 2017, from
  92. Zimmerer, J. (2014). Climate change, environmental violence and genocide. The International Journal of Human Rights, 18(3), 265–280. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Avi Brisman
    • 1
  • Nigel South
    • 2
  • Reece Walters
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Justice StudiesEastern Kentucky UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Centre for CriminologyUniversity of EssexEssexUK
  3. 3.School of JusticeQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations