U.S. Climate Commissioner John Kerry warned Tuesday that global warming was making the world more dangerous and posing risks to peace and security around the world.
If you don’t address the threats of climate change, “you are almost marching towards a mutual suicide pact,” Kerry said at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council attended by presidents and prime ministers from several countries.
“We bury our heads in the sand at our own risk,” he continued. “There is an urgent need to treat the climate crisis as the pressing security threat it poses.”
Climate change has been on the rise in the Security Council for more than a decade, but Tuesday’s meeting was notable for its stark contrast to the past four years, when the United States, under Donald J. Trump’s presidency, tried to even block general mentions of climate science in United Nations proceedings.
“Climatic disturbances are a crisis intensifier and multiplier”, said the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, to the council.
Mr. Kerry noted the “inexcusable absence” of the United States leadership on climate over the past four years. As President, Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement, the global deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions. President Biden began rejoining as soon as he was sworn in.
The Security Council has the power to impose sanctions and approve peacekeeping missions in countries, which is why countries argue about what to address and what not.
Mr Kerry’s remarks were part of a diplomatic dispute that broke out among powerful countries over whether climate change should even be discussed in the world organization that should fight war and peace.
Russia, India and China – all among the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions – argued that climate change could be addressed in other ways. New global fault lines emerged.
The Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar rejected the idea of climate change as a driver of conflict. China’s climate commissioner Xie Zhenhua described climate change as a development problem. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily A. Nebenzia, has been philosophical about rising temperatures. “Are they really the main causes of these conflicts?” he asked.
The meeting did not lead to anything concrete. The fact that this happened at all, and that several presidents and prime ministers attended, signaled that climate change is becoming increasingly important in the member states of the United Nations, especially if the United States adopts it. “The Biden team’s emphasis on global warming has changed the incentive structure on the council, and I think many states will report the problem this year,” said Richard Gowan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent research group, 10 of the 21 countries where the United Nations currently deploy peacekeeping forces are classified as most affected by climate change.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country is serving as rotating chairman of the Security Council this month, opened the session by saying, “I know there are people around the world who will say this is all green stuff from a bunch tree hugging tofu munchers unsuitable for international diplomacy and international politics. “He added,” I couldn’t disagree more deeply. “
The UK is hosting the next United Nations climate negotiations, due to take place in Glasgow in November.