A years-long effort at the United Nations Security Council to brand climate change as a threat to international peace and security came to a screeching halt Monday, as Russia vetoed a resolution by Ireland and Niger that proposed “incorporating information on the security implications of climate change” in the council’s conflict management strategies and operations.
India voted against the proposal, as well, while China abstained, The Associated Press reports.
The Security Council “has passed resolutions that mention destabilizing effects of warming in specific places, such as various African countries and Iraq. But Monday’s resolution would have been the first devoted to climate-related security danger as an issue of its own,” AP writes.
The proposed resolution said severe storms, sea level rise, and more frequent floods and droughts could inflame social tensions and conflict, potentially “posing a key risk to global peace, security, and stability.” It had the support of 113 of the UN’s 193 member countries, including 12 of 15 Security Council members.
But the other three said adding climate to the council’s purview “would only deepen global divisions that were pointed up by last month’s climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland,” AP says. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia “complained that Monday’s proposed resolution would turn ‘a scientific and economic issue into a politicized question’, divert the council’s attention from what he called ‘genuine’ sources of conflict in various places, and give the council a pretext to intervene in virtually any country on the planet.”
“This approach would be a ticking time bomb,” he said.
India and China said the Paris climate agreement could suffer if the Security Council, with its authority to impose sanctions and deploy peacekeeping troops, got more involved with the climate emergency. “What the Security Council needs to do is not a political show,” said Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun.
But Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason maintained the council is “long overdue” taking up the issue.
“Today was an opportunity for the council to recognize, for the first time, the reality of the world that we are living in and that climate change is increasing insecurity and instability,” she said. “Instead, we have missed the opportunity for action, and we look away from the realities of the world we are living in.”
“The force of the veto can block the approval of a text, but it cannot hide our reality,” added Niger ambassador Abdou Abarry.