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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

UN warns climate change impacts security, US ignores link

The UN system’s chief scientist on weather and climate warned Friday that climate change has “a multitude of security impacts” and is increasingly regarded as a national security threat — with global warming records broken in 20 of the last 22 years.

world Updated: Jan 26, 2019 15:03 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
United Nations
Image for representation.
Image for representation.(AFP file photo)
         

The UN system’s chief scientist on weather and climate warned Friday that climate change has “a multitude of security impacts” and is increasingly regarded as a national security threat — with global warming records broken in 20 of the last 22 years.

The Maldives’ foreign minister, Abdulla Shahid, told a U.N. Security Council meeting on “the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security” that there is no bigger security threat than climate change which endangers the Indian Ocean island nation’s very existence.

But the acting US ambassador, Jonathan Cohen, never even mentioned the words “climate change” or “security” in his council speech.

And Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia objected strongly to discussing climate change in the Security Council, saying it is not a threat to international peace and security and should only be discussed in specific cases where it is a risk factor.

Also read | UN chief warns ‘we are losing the race’ on climate change

More than 80 of the 193 UN member states spoke at the day-long council meeting and virtually everyone except the United States agreed that climate change was happening.

Russia’s Nebenzia said it should be discussed elsewhere in the U.N. system by experts, but the U.S.’ Cohen spoke only of “natural disasters” like hurricanes and floods that “frequently lead to breakdowns in social order and spikes in crime, violence and instability.”

Professor Pavel Kabat, chief scientist of the World Meteorological Organization, recalled that the first warnings of the world’s changing climate were issued at its First World Climate Conference in 1979. And he began his speech saying this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos ranked extreme weather, natural disasters, climate change and water crises as the top four existential threats in its new Global Risks Report 2019.

Kabat said the global average greenhouse gas concentrations of carbon dioxide — which causes global warming — continued rising to record levels in 2018-2019.

Also read | Losses caused to India doubled due to change in climate