UN Security Council to meet on global warming impact on world peace

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UNITED NATIONS, United States, Feb 21, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – The UN
Security Council will hold a summit of world leaders Tuesday to debate
climate change’s implications for world peace, an issue on which its
15 members have divergent opinions.

The session, called by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and
conducted by video-conference, comes just days after the United States
under President Joe Biden formally rejoined the Paris climate change
accord.

Johnson, whose country now holds the Security Council’s rotating
presidency, will address the forum, as will US climate czar John
Kerry, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang
Yi and the prime ministers of Ireland, Vietnam, Norway and other
countries, diplomats say.

The meeting will serve as a test for US-China relations, one UN
ambassador said on condition of anonymity, alluding to one of the few
issues where the two big powers might agree. But this is not a given.

“We should watch how the Chinese position themselves with the
Americans,” this ambassador said.

Traditionally, the ambassador said, “you know that the Russians and
the Chinese will immediately say (climate change has) ‘nothing to do’
with the council’s issues.”

Today, however, “the Chinese are more liable to be slightly open to
that discussion,” which “leaves the Russians pretty much on their
own.”

Russia does not see climate change as a broad issue for the
Security Council to address. Moscow prefers dealing with climate
questions on a case-by-case basis, diplomats told AFP.

Tuesday’s meeting “will be focused on the security aspects of
climate change,” a second ambassador said, also on condition of
anonymity.

Some non-permanent members of the council including Kenya and Niger
have clearly expressed their concerns about climate change’s impact on
national security.

Others do not want to “turn the Security Council into another organ
which is looking just at the issues more broadly around finance,
adaptation, mitigation and negotiations,” the second ambassador said.

– Implications for conflict –

“Both China and Russia, but not only them, are reluctant to have
the Security Council discuss climate change and its implications,”
said a third ambassador, who ruled out the possibility of the council
adopting a joint statement at this point.

“China and Russia think that it can become intrusive, that it is
not about peace and security,” this ambassador said.

“They don’t want the Security Council to do decision-making about
economic choices. Even they understand that climate change has
implications for conflict drivers.”

“Desertification, population movements and competition for access
to resources” are linked to global warming, said another diplomat.

This is important for Tunisia, Norway and Ireland. The latter two
have been on the council since January.

In the Lake Chad region of central Africa, the problem is not
something to be left “for tomorrow. It already existed yesterday,” an
ambassador from Africa said.

He said the issues of access to water and production of animal feed
can trigger violence between different communities and lead to idle,
disaffected youths being recruited by jihadist groups.

The arrival of the Biden administration with its pledge to make
global warming a top priority — in contrast with Donald Trump, who
regularly questioned the science behind climate change — should
change the Security Council’s dynamics on this issue, diplomats said.

Last year, Germany, which then had a seat on the council, drafted a
resolution calling for the creation of a special UN envoy post on
climate-related security risks.

One goal of the job would be to improve UN efforts involving risk
assessment and prevention.

But Germany never put the text up for a vote because of veto
threats from the United States, Russia and China.

Today, with the new US approach, that draft resolution has a chance
of being approved, said an ambassador with a seat on the council.

BSS/AFP/MRU/0820hrs