After years of ignoring global warming issues, world leaders finally seem to be willing to address the threat of climate change. Last month, the UN Security Council agreed to add climate change to its agenda, which was quite an accomplishment after the crushing defeat that happened in Copenhagen in 2009. According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, global warming and greenhouse effects are a threat to international peace and security. They generate an explosive cocktail of natural disasters that threaten global security, as well as wars and terrorism. Ban Ki-Moon believes that with climate change accelerating, natural disasters will grow exponentially. If the increase of the average temperature is over 3 degrees Celsius, war may become highly probable. From this perspective, Ban Ki-Moon wants to put the climate change issue at the top of the Security Council priorities. This Council, whose mission is to maintain peace and security worldwide can react when a threat arises by imposing embargoes, economic sanctions or military intervention. While it may seem strange for the UN Security Council to discuss climate change, the reality is that the danger is real and it needs to be addressed.
“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 Ki-moon said in an address to the Security Council mid-July during a debate on the impact of climate change.
Countries, particularly island states directly threatened by the rising waters, such as Seychelles or Maldives, were represented by Nauru President Marcus Stephen. He said that these countries put pressure on the UN to classify climate change as an international priority. Recently, he explained that climate change is a threat as important as nuclear proliferation or international terrorism.
Unfortunately, some countries do not want to hear about these problems because they fear that it may slow their economic growth. Ultimately, that was the reason why a more ambitious agreement wasn’t signed by the Security Council at the end of the discussions. They agreed that global warming is a threat, however due to the pressure from China and Russia, the Security Council stated that they are not responsible for handling these matters. France was disappointed that those two countries had such a negative attitude and appeared uninterested in addressing climate change. A US diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the final agreement was missing force but recognized that it was a small step in the right direction. Personally, I do not understand why some countries still refuse to make important decisions to handle this issue, just for economic reasons. When will international leaders have the courage to make important decisions and address the challenges posed by global warming? Time is running out. The next UN conference on climate, which will be held next December in Durban, South Africa, is eagerly awaiting. Hopefully we will not be disappointed once again…