Climate change is increasingly presented as a security issue; this ‘climate security’ discourse arguably imparts an even greater sense of urgency to the already alarming climate crisis. This article argues that the grounding for this narrative is thin, while its adoption in powerful avenues and thus its implications are substantial. Budgets for climate mitigation and adaptation measures, which often seek to control natural resources by assigning a monetary value to them, rise steadily. Ironically, climate policies themselves frequently contribute to socio-environmental conflicts, further marginalizing the users of land, water and forests. It is therefore important to disentangle whether and how climate security discourses further shape climate investments, to identify the key actors involved and to examine the part they play in socio-environmental conflicts. The article argues that a critical research agenda, based on but going beyond political ecology, is needed for more socially and environmentally just climate interventions.