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UNSC's Climate Change Session Masks Members' Intransigence

Ben Zala Monday, July 25, 2011

Last week's discussion at the U.N. Security Council on the security implications of climate change was an important step in the right direction. This is only the second time that the subject, which may turn out to be the defining issue for global security in the 21st century, has made it onto the agenda of the U.N. body charged with maintaining international peace and security. The discussion's importance is limited, however, since the real path to addressing the security implications of climate change lies outside the council. The special session, initiated by Germany, focused specifically on the council's role in preventing climate-induced conflict over increasingly scarce food, water and arable land. The solution to these conflicts, however, can only be found in reducing carbon emissions -- including by scaling up the deployment of renewable energy technologies and increasing energy efficiency measures -- and not in responding to climate crises once they have occurred.     

The physical effects of a warming climate are now widely regarded as, in the words of the U.K. National Security Strategy document, "risk multipliers."  Everyone from the U.S. National Intelligence Council (.pdf) to the Royal Society (.pdf) has highlighted the link between the consequences of higher global temperatures and human insecurity.    ...

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