July 24th, 2011 by Shellee Tyler
Climate change poses a major threat to future peace and security, a senior UN official has warned. Achim Steiner from the UN Environment Program said climate change would also “exponentially” increase the scale of natural disasters.
But the 15-member council apparently failed to agree on whether climate change itself was a direct threat to international peace and security, even after a rebuke by the United States which described the lack of consensus as “pathetic.”
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged concerted action and called on developed countries to lead the charge in mitigating effects of Climate Change, while encouraging the developing world to do its fair share.
“Extreme weather events continue to grow more frequent and intense in rich and poor countries alike, not only devastating lives, but also infrastructure, institutions, and budgets — an unholy brew which can create dangerous security vacuums,” Ban told a Security Council debate on the issue.
Climate Change, he said, “not only exacerbates threats to international peace and security; it is a threat to international peace and security.”
A presidential statement from the Security Council “expresses concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.”
Unfortunately, despite requests from developing states to classify climate change as a threat in itself, the statement stopped short of that.
A statement from the French delegation expressed “disappointment” over the lack of “punch” to the UN statement. “The face that a unanimous agreement was reached at the Security Council represents a remarkable advance,” it said, but France “regrets that it was not able to reaction a consensus on a more ambitious presidential declaration.”
US ambassador Susan Rice criticized the council for not reaching an agreement on climate change despite the overwhelming evidence that it posed a great threat to peace and security.
“This is more than disappointing. It’s pathetic, it’s shortsighted, and frankly it’s a dereliction of duty,” she said. A U.S diplomat, who declined to be identified, said later the UN statement was “obviously lacking force” but called it “a small step in the right direction.”
Achim Steiner, director of the UN Environment Program, cited a worst-case scenario prediction that temperatures will rise four degree Celsius by 2060 while the sea level will rise one meter (3.3 feet) over the next century. “The scale of the natural disasters will increase exponentially,” he added.
The next climate conference will take place in Durban in December.
Read More: AFP
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Photo Credit: United Nations Photo
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