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Posted on on March 8th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

British push on CO2 at security council:
· Diplomats seek to put climate change on agenda,
· Foreign Office argues it is a matter of global stability.

THE GUARDIAN – Ed Pilkington in New York and David Adam – Thursday March 8, 2007.

The British government is considering putting climate change on to the agenda of the UN security council for the first time to underline the urgency of the issue.

UK officials are holding talks with the other 14 member states ahead of Britain taking over the council presidency for the month of April. Early soundings have met resistance from countries such as the US and South Africa. Britain would only propose bringing climate change into security council business if it had unanimous support.

Global warming has thus far been considered outside the remit of the council, which is mandated under the UN charter to maintain “international peace and security”.
But the British government – led by key figures including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Miliband – has come to the view that it is a matter of international security as it will cause mass migrations and aggravate disputes over borders, water and other resources.

The foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, raised what she called climate security in her speech to the UN general assembly in September. “Our climate presents us with an ever-growing threat to international security. Dealing with climate change is no longer a choice, it is an imperative,” she said.

A report commissioned by the US government warned at the weekend that the US must prepare to intervene in a growing number of major crises across the world brought on by climate change, such as water shortages, collapses in civil order and “the implosion of one or more major cities”.

Unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions and the expected temperature rise over the coming decades could provoke social unrest in vulnerable places from Delhi and Mexico City to Lima, said the report by Global Business Network (GBN), a consultancy group in San Francisco.

It said action may be needed soon to “forestall the worst effects of collapsing ecosystems, water systems, or radical restructuring of the global insurance industry” and warned that US policies on global warming could threaten its strategic interests abroad and weaken its bargaining power on key issues such as trade and security.

The initial reaction to bringing climate change into the security council has been less than enthusiastic on the part of the US government, one of the council’s five permanent members along with the UK, which has consistently favoured voluntary measures to deal with emissions and has refused to sign the Kyoto protocol.

Other member states have been hesitant because they are suspicious of land grabs by the big developed powers of the security council on the territory of the UN’s general assembly, which tends to represent the interests of developing nations. South Africa, which holds a temporary seat on the council, has expressed such a doubt despite being in favour of more robust action on global warming.

Foreign Office officials point to the example of Richard Holbrooke, the US ambassador to the UN between 1999 and 2001, who put Aids on to the security council agenda with beneficial results.


At we knew about the British intent since the beginning of the year. We also know that the South African Presidency of the UNSC is a dead time for the subject – but the UK takes over on April 1-st AND THERE IS HOPE. The Slovakia Presidency could have started the process by presenting   Africa climate change derived problems at the root of some conflict areas, this specially that the UN Secretary-General came to brief the SC with information from his trip to the seat of the African Union in Adis Ababba. The AU Summit was called on topics of climate change and no-one at the UN in New York paid any attention. At the briefing by the Secretary-General the subject was raised side-wise by Congo, but it did not take off. Even Ghana, the incoming lead-country of the AU, did not seem to push for the obvious link between loss of grazing lands in the Sahel and the conflicts that stretch from Somalia to Mauritania. Darfur, with all its problems, the involvement of more and less Islamisized tribes, nomads, and agriculturalists, can be seen as having started as an old fashioned tribal warfare that got enhanced because of the effects of climate change. By not talking about the basics, the UNSC, as all of the UN system, is geared only to lick humanity’s woonds, but remains blind to what guaranties bigger woonds tomorrow. The Ghana Ambassador told me thatclimate change is not an Africa proble, but a problem for all nations alike – so he does not want to stress it as an African Problem. We understand his point, but we also know that the poor of Africa are those that suffer the most.

The UK Presidency and the willingness of Tony Blair to pick up the leadership mantle, may be seen eventually as an effort to save the UN.

The UK will be followed in May by the US, in June by Belgium, in July by China, in August by Congo, in September by France, in October by Ghana, in November by Indonesia and in December by Italy.

if the UK manages to look under the climate change blanket, it might eventually allow a face saving position for the US, and as the Guardian mentions Richard Holbrooke as the US Ambassador that put AIDS on the Security Council Agenda, it might be that Ambassador Wolf will now put Biofuels on the Agenda, and help the UK created topic roll to some positive conclusions. The further line-up will then also not stop progress, and eventually Indonesia, in November, might become the new Japan of old Kyoto Protocol times. This because of the UNFCCC meeting in Bali December 3-14, 2007, and Indonesia’s interestof not being remembered as the failure of the climate change negotiations.

All   of the above was known to us before, but we did not think appropriate to write about it before the UK having made their actual move. Now The Guardian makes it official, and we hope that there will develop a larger interest in the press accredited to the UN.

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