Climate Change A Threat To International Security
February 18, 2013

Marshall Islands Among Those Petitioning UN To Address Security Issues Of Climate Change

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Speaking before the United Nations Security Council, an official from the Marshall Islands argued that climate change is a threat to international security, citing the impact that global warming has had on his own island nation to illustrate his point.

Tony deBrum, a minister and assistant to the president of the Marshall Islands, petitioned the body on Friday to recognize the phenomenon as a potential hazard to the very survival of his country and of other low-lying island nations, Edith M. Lederer of the Associated Press (AP) said.

DeBrum spoke with members of the media after addressing the Security Council during their closed-door “Security Dimensions of Climate Change” conference, telling reporters he hoped that council members can be convinced that global warming “is a security issue and not just an economic-political-social issue.”

“He said climate change has already taken a toll on the Marshall Islands,” Lederer reported. “Wells have filled with salt water, making drinking water scarce and in turn affecting food production. One small island in a lagoon is now under water, and coastlines are being eroded. The impact of climate change is also causing migration to other islands, as well as to Australia and the United States,” he said.

However, she also said that deBrum´s petition is being opposed by China and Russia, both of whom are permanent members of the UN subgroup, as well as a coalition of 130 primarily developing nations who assert that climate change discussion does not belong at Security Council meetings.

According to Bloomberg News, Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, also spoke before the council in New York on Friday.

In discussing possible climate change-related security scenarios, he presented one which was set 20 years in the future, in which India has become the most populous nation in the world, but due to drought conditions and the resulting lack of crops, people begin to starve and the “the seeds of conflict take root” among the country´s 1.5 billion citizens, the news organization said.

On Friday, the AP spoke with Rachel Kyte, the World Bank's vice-president for sustainable development. During that interview, Kyte said that since the last round of talks on global warming, the sense of urgency had increased amongst UN officials.

"The question is: Do you want to keep on cataloguing all of the terrible things that are going to happen if we continue on a business as usual track, or are we actually going to start doing anything about it?" she told the wire service. Kyte went on to say that she had advised the council that it was “possible to stop the worst from happening,” but that it would “require real, concerted policy action globally at every country level” to do so.

"Economically we know what to do, but politically it's going to take leadership, and every day we don't act we make the job more difficult for ourselves,” she said. "What the Security Council has to do is understand that everything has to be seen through this lens. Climate change is changing the future scenarios for every country. It's framing decisions on security, economic security, food security."