The U.N. Security Council has finally acknowledged climate change as a potential threat to world peace and security. The acknowledgment comes in the wake of a heated debate by the 15 council nations, which almost ended in a deadlock.
Four years ago, the Security Council debated the very same issue, but reached no agreement regarding the link between climate change and global security.
This year’s debates got off to a rocky start and seemed destined for a similar fate, as Russia voiced skepticism regarding the suitability of a climate change agenda for the Security Council. Russian envoy Alexander Pankin claimed that “the issue of climate change [would] not bring any added value whatsoever and [would] merely lead to further increased politicization of the issue.”
Russia’s initial position was supported by temporary members Brazil and India, who also claimed that the Council should not be involved in discussions over climate change. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice had strong words for Russia and its supporters midway through the debates, charging that “this is more than disappointing. It’s pathetic. It’s shortsighted, and frankly it’s a dereliction of duty.”
Eventually, Russia finally agreed to a weaker Security Council statement on Climate Change, with the final version expressing “concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security”. Although the final statement is significantly weaker than the initial one, at least now all of the Council members have arrived at an agreement.
The link between climate change and global peace and security has gained increasing attention in recent weeks, as Somalia continues to be ravaged by prolonged drought and intense famine. A warming planet will have negative impacts on food security in the future, as areas become progressively arid and extreme weather events increase. Issues of food security have become so pronounced, that the UN Food and Agricultural Organization is raising alarm bells about the ability of the world to feed itself in 2050.
Even now, small island nations such as Nauru are grappling with the effects of sea level rise caused by climate change and other islands could disappear completely. The growth in environmental refugees in the next few decades could be staggering if the proper steps are not taken. Not only does the world need to work towards reducing CO₂ emissions, we need to provide developing countries with the necessary funding to mitigate the impacts associated with a warming planet.
What do you think about the latest agreement from the U.N. Security Council? Does it pave the way for future discussions regarding the link between climate change and global security, or does it fall well short?
Images CC licensed by expertinfantry: Weapons in Somalia