Let me start by thanking the UK for providing a very useful and timely paper as the point of departure for our debate here today.
The General Assembly stated in the 2005 World Summit Outcome that “We recognize that climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe.” The Heads of State and Government went on to “acknowledge that we are living in an interdependent and global world and that many of today’s threats recognize no national boundaries, are interlinked and must be tackled at the global, regional and national levels in accordance with the Charter and international law.”
Against this background, we welcome that the Security Council for the first time addresses the security aspects of climate change. While climate change and energy are broad issues that are being addressed also in other UN fora, there is no doubt that the implications of climate change also pose a number of threats to our collective security.
The interlinkages between environmental sustainability and peace and security was put on the international agenda in 2004, when Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to counter environmental degradation. Today, climate change is our main environmental challenge. But it is a threat that reaches far beyond the environment. It affects economic development, threatens the livelihood and resource base of whole societies and affects health and the spread of infectious diseases. It is likely to reduce the world’s food security through droughts and unstable weather conditions. It endangers the very ground on which nearly half the world’s population lives - through rising sea levels. And it is likely to lead to increased humanitarian emergencies. For all these reasons climate change also represents a security threat that needs to be considered and addressed.
Climate change as part of the peace and security agenda should and must be addressed by the Security Council. The Council could become less effective in preventing and resolving conflict if it was to ignore the environmental dimension when analysing the underlying causes of conflicts.
To be able to do this effectively, the Council needs to base its decisions on facts and specific knowledge. We need to fill the current knowledge gap on how climate change and changing energy needs may impact on specific conflict situations on the Security Council’s agenda. Such improved knowledge will help prevent and deal more effectively with future conflicts.
Such knowledge may also prove vital for preparing a coherent response to the risks of climate change among the UN membership and across the UN organisations.
We would suggest that DPA in cooperation with UNEP and other relevant UN institutions be requested to look into how the current knowledge base on the interlinkages between climate change and security could be improved and made more readily available.
Climate change is a truly global problem that can only be solved through global cooperation and joint action. It is therefore essential to reach a greatly improved and broader agreement on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Norway supports all efforts to focus attention on the issue of climate change at the highest political level. While the Security Council should address the implications of climate change for the maintenance of international peace and security, the broader aspects of climate change is clearly an issue for the General Assembly. In this regard, we find the idea of a high-level meeting on climate change in the General Assembly in September this year interesting, and encourage the Secretary-General and Member States to pursue this possibility.