Global temperature rise is likely to cause enhanced extreme weather events which could lead to social and political instability in vulnerable regions of the world. The security questions related to climate change, however, have emerged as a polarizing theme in global politics. The rejection of the first-ever draft resolution on climate security put to a vote at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this past week reflects this deep divide. A group of sovereignty-conscious major and middle powers, including Russia, raised some valid objections at the UNSC tied to the risks of lack of representation and potential enabling of coercive interventions. The only way forward is for the United States and its European partners to step back from the rush to both universalize and securitize climate change and focus instead on piecemeal steps that can gain the support of opponents.
It was Russia’s veto that killed last week’s UNSC resolution, which had support from twelve of the Council’s fifteen member states. Russia was backed by India, which also cast a “no” vote, and China, which criticized the draft, but chose to abstain.
Explaining its veto, Russia pointed to the lack of consensus among UN member states on the issue. It said conflict was a complex and poorly understood issue, there was no “automatic link” between climate and security, and the UNSC was not the right forum to discuss climate-related questions.
India’s arguments mostly aligned with Russia’s. New Delhi reiterated its long-standing position that climate change was a developmental rather than a security issue. It asserted that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), under whose auspices the annual climate Conference of Parties (COP) negotiations are held, was the proper body to take up the issue. China acknowledged the “potential” of a climate link to conflict, but said that climate change should not be securitized and developed countries should shoulder their historical responsibility on emissions.
Read the full article in The National Interest.