Climate Change Police: the new CCP

The following article from the Spectator Australia

The Climate Change Police.

It sounds like a concept from the latest sci-fi, techno-thriller, or dystopian novel – doesn’t it?

I mean… a story very similar to it might have already been written and is awaiting publication, like the thousands of other hopeful manuscripts gathering dust. Or maybe it’s something for the next blockbuster TV series, (since none of us have the attention span to sit for an extended movie these days)?

Joking aside, the future of policing is something we need to be thinking about.

This is a pressing issue, given the calls in recent years to ‘defund the police’ and accelerate ‘police reform’. What this reform looks like depends upon what we expect our police force to do.

That’s an interesting question in and of itself.

What do we see as the role of police in our contemporary society? What does a democratic police force look like? Is it a police force that enforces all laws equally regardless of who commits them?

The sheer number of laws in existence present an issue where police are unable to be everywhere at once. Personally, I’d rather avoid the 1984-style surveillance state which a highly-efficient police practice would necessitate.

The other kind of ‘democratic’ policing which exists is policing in a manner that aligns with the political priorities of the day. If we’re assuming that the government is democratically elected (I’ll avoid questioning this for fear of sounding Trumpian), then its policy agenda reflects public interests. Therefore, a democratic police would focus on enforcing those laws which the public is most invested in seeing enforced.

This is hardly a desirable outcome if we believe in the rule of law and the notion that all of our current laws are necessary (debatable). Regardless of how we conceive of policing practice going forward (unless of course you’re for complete anarchy and no police whatsoever), it’s certainly true that their role in society is going to change.

As far as a ‘climate-focused’ police squad is concerned, I see them as being called to serve five aims.

To make it clear I’m not taking sides, I’m neither expressing a deep love for the police, nor hiding a deep loathing dusted with a longing for anarchy. I’m simply suggesting what functions a CCP might be called to serve based upon current societal expectations about the job of police as law enforcers. Which laws might be democratically popular?

Police as immigration officers. Believe in Climate Change or not, the fact is that natural disasters occur and are occurring with greater regularity. We are going to be seeing certain regions of the world become very undesirable to live in, whether that be due to weather conditions, or their knock-on effect. Here, I’m talking about droughts leading to food scarcity. The other side of things is the effect of climate policies themselves. Restrictions on energy use, job losses due to the closure of ‘non-green’ industries, etc. The fact is that climate policies are going to impact every sector of society, they will cause discomfort and some countries are going to be more militant about enforcing them. Some countries will become havens, and Australia – as a reasonably prosperous democracy – is likely to be on the list.

Police as emergency response teams. We have already seen how frequently the ADF have been called upon in recent years to assist in disaster relief efforts (what this says about the function of the military is another article entirely). Clearly, in an increasingly unstable world, the military needs to be focused on being a military, not serving as an extension of the SES or the police, or Vinnies.

Police for policing white-collar crime. With more policies restricting pollutants and other economically harmful practices.

Police for policing activist crime. Then there are the environmental activists, who often go too far and become socially disruptive or downright destructive. There’s no doubt that activism of the extreme kind will be on the rise. I’m not sure what police can do for those determined to glue themselves to roads, but that’ll be for the professionals to figure out.


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