India has questioned the rush at the UN to declare climate change an international security issue, potentially giving the Security Council the right to take action on it, and pointed out the pitfalls in the approach.
A “mere decision of the Council” to takeover enforcement of climate change action would disrupt the Paris Agreement and multilateral efforts to find solutions, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council on Friday.
India has been wary of the Council’s mission creep as it tries to extend its reach beyond what is allocated in the UN Charter by redefining other issues, even as it struggles to fulfil its primary functions.
Taking aim at the composition of the Council that does not reflect the contemporary world, Akbaruddin asked: “Can the needs of climate justice be served by shifting climate law-making from the inclusive UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) to decision-making by a structurally unrepresentative institution with an exclusionary approach decided in secretive deliberations?”
He said the main point of contention “is about what manner, which aspects and which global governance mechanisms are best suited to tackle these phenomena” and India favoured a cautious approach.
The Council was discussing the impact of climate-related disasters on international peace and security after the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, said the trends of heat waves, heavier rain events, higher sea levels and severe damage to agriculture “represent a security risk for the entire world”.
“The relationship between climate-related risks and conflict is complex and often intersects with political, social, economic and demographic factors,” she said.
Akbaruddin pointed out that the UNFCC had found that “the evidence on the effect of climate change and variability on violence is contested”.
Making climate change an international security issue, he said “may help heighten public awareness. It may even help in surmounting opposition. But securitisation also carries significant downsides”.
Taking a security approach brings “overly militarised solutions to problems, which inherently require non-military responses”.
“It brings the wrong actors to the table. As the saying goes, ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’.”
Akbaruddin questioned if climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies could be carried out by enforcement actions of the Council as it was supposed to do with terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Would those who fail to their obligations under the Paris Agreement to cut their emissions or fail to provide obligatory financing for climate change programmes be be held accountable for climate change, he asked.
The US, a permanent member of the Council, has pulled out of the Paris Agreement and has cut back on aid for countering climate change.
Akbaruddin said that India supports cooperation and action that are consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities to prevent and address serious disasters linked to climate.