The German University of Technology (GU Tech) in Oman got a brand new, prize winning, Green Campus, in a State that for now has no use for Conservation of Energy. This is a clear first in Oman – a return to consciousness that was common here in pre-oil times.
Business is pushing for a negotiated position come the final end of the first period of the Kyoto Protocol to the Climate Convention in 2015 by asking questions from the UNFCCC. The new Key-Words for questions are AMBITION and EQUITY. Climate Change is not waiting for answers.
3 Encouraging Signs of Progress from the Bonn Climate Talks.
Submitted by Jennifer Morgan on May 3, 2013
Day 4 of the climate talks in Bonn, Germany. Photo credit: adopt a negotiator, Flickr
A slight breath of fresh air entered the UNFCCC climate negotiations this week in Bonn, Germany. Held in the old German parliament—which was designed to demonstrate transparency and light—the meeting took on a more open feel than the past several COPs and intersessionals.
Instead of arguing over the agenda, negotiators got down to work, discussing ways to ramp up countries’ emissions-reduction commitments now and move toward a 2015 international climate action agreement.
Reaching these two goals is imperative. It was encouraging to hear delegates make progress across three key issues involved in achieving them:
1) “Spectrum of Commitments”
This idea—put forward by the United States—is that every country should determine its own national “contribution” to curbing global climate change and present it to the international community. A “spectrum” of various commitments would thus emerge, which could be included in some sort of formal agreement.
The idea opened up a much-needed conversation about the concept itself and how it would work in practice. Beyond the issues of ambition and equity noted below, the first question was whether there would be any guidance or templates for how countries put forward such commitments, or would it be a more “wild west” atmosphere. The second question was if and how the contributions would be reviewed, if at all.
The United States proposed a review up-front, but did not state whether that review would result in any change in the initial offer. Other questions included what kind of mechanism could be used to ratchet up ambition, and how developing countries could put forward contributions without knowing what kind of financial support might be provided. Clearly one key question is how to ensure that nationally offered commitments add up to a level of action that keeps global average temperature increase below 2 degrees C.
While the talks yielded more questions than answers, discussing new ideas like the spectrum of commitments represented good progress in the negotiating process.
How to increase countries’ emissions-reduction commitments is clearly the key worry for just about everyone, as it should be. While in Bonn, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide approached the 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold, putting the planet on an extremely dangerous trajectory.
Delegates struggled to think through ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to prevent climate change’s worst impacts. They heard from cities, farmers, and business people about what they’re currently doing to shift to a low-carbon economy. But how does that all add up? And how does one create the benefits for countries to go faster and deeper in reducing emissions?
In the context of a spectrum of commitments, the key question asked was how to ensure that collective actions would get the world anywhere close to staying below 2 degrees C of temperature rise. Many noted that the current ambition gap exists because of the bottom-up pledge and a failed review system. Why would this situation be any different if we pursue a spectrum approach? The word “ratchet mechanism” was often heard, with delegates searching for new ideas and incentives to catalyze more action. This “ratchet up” process, which enables countries to increase their emissions-reduction pledges over time, may be combined with a periodic review and a robust set of accounting, measurement, reporting, and verification rules.
The issues of equity and climate justice blew through many of the sessions and dominated informal dinner table debates. Although the “e” word is not mentioned specifically in the Durban Platform, it is now abundantly clear that figuring out how to make the 2015 international climate agreement equitable is going to be one of the keys to its formation. Some asked whether an “equity reference framework” approach could work. A number of experts have been analyzing the different indicators that could help assess whether a national climate action plan is equitable. While negotiating this set of indicators within the UNFCCC process would likely prolong the negotiations, delegates acknowledged that there is value in finding evidence-based, pragmatic ways to integrate equity into the decision-making process.
It was an encouraging debate: After this intersessional, all subsequent UNFCCC discussions of equity will inevitably be taken more seriously.
WRI and the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice hosted a Climate Justice Dinner one night during the talks. Stories of climate change’s real world impacts—which people in places like Bangladesh are already facing—connected negotiators with what’s really at stake for communities around the globe.
Negotiators made some progress and started asking the right questions. Now it’s time to start answering these questions to ensure that the 2015 agreement not only provides transparency, but drives a game change in the level of climate action that the world has seen to date.
The Decreasing Cost of Solar Energy – Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal — and in parts of the US such as the Southwest, solar is already at grid parity. Chinese solar panels fell in cost 50% in the 2009-2012 period and it is expected they will fall in cost further at a 30%/year rate. Japan will become this year second largest solar energy market beyond China. South Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, India increase their Solar Energy production as well.
The Incredible Shrinking Cost of Solar Energy.
04 May 13
ob Wile uses a graph to point out the obvious, the dramatic fall in the cost of solar power generation. In many countries– Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal — and in parts of the US such as the Southwest, solar is at grid parity. That means it is as inexpensive to build a solar plant as a gas or coal one. The pace of technological innovation in the solar field has also accelerated, so that costs have started falling precipitously and efficiency is rapidly increasing.
By 2015, solar panels should have fallen to 42 cents per watt.
Reneweconomy.com says that the best Chinese solar panels fell in cost by 50% between 2009 and 2012. That incredible achievement is what has driven so many solar companies bankrupt– if you have the older technology, your panels are suddenly expensive and you can’t compete. It is like no one wants a 4 year old computer.
Conservatives shed no tears when better computers drive slower ones out of the market, but point to solar companies’ shake-out as somehow bad or unnatural. No wonder US solar installations jumped 76% in 2012.
The reductions in cost over the next two years are expected to continue, at a slowing but still impressive 30% rate:
Construction has begun on the world’s largest solar plant. MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp. are building a 579 megawatt installation, the Antelope Valley Solar Project, in Kern and Los Angeles counties in California. That is half a gigawatt, just enormous. It will provide electricity to 400,000 homes in the state (roughly 2 million people?), and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 775,000 tons a year. The US emits 5 billion metric tons a year of C02, second only to China, and forms a big part of the world’s carbon problem all by itself. We just need 645 more of the Antelope Valley projects.
Important new research also shows that hybrid plants that have both solar panels and wind turbines dramatically increase efficiency and help with integration into the electrical grid. Earlier concerns that the turbines would cast shadows and so detract from the efficiency of the solar panels appear to have been overblown. Because in most places in the US there is more sun in the summer and more wind in the winter, a combined plant keeps the electricity feeding into the grid at a more constant rate all year round, which is more desirable than big spikes and fall-offs.
That Germany, then China, then the US are the world’s largest solar markets is no surprise. But that number 17 Japan will increase its solar installations by 120% in 2013 and so may be the second hottest solar market, just after China, this year, would mark a big change. Japan may well have 5 gigawatts of solar installed by the end of this year, even though the relatively new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is no particular friend of the renewables. In my own view, if Japan made the right governmental and private investments, it could overtake China in the solar field and reverse its long post-bubble stagnation.
ABB has been commissioned a large solar electricity generating plant on the edge of the Kalahari Desert near Cape Town, South Africa. It will supply the electricity needs of around 40,000 persons and reduce annual emissions by 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide. South Africa emits 500 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, and is third in the world for per capita emissions. (Still, it only emits a 10th as much over-all as the US). But they just need a thousand more plants like the Kalahari one, and voila! South Africa is also imposing a carbon tax, which will hurry things along. (At the moment, South Africa is far too dependent on dirty coal plants, which not only fuel climate change but also spew deadly toxins such as mercury into the atmosphere, whence it goes into human beings.
Because of South African and Israeli demand in particular, demand for solar panels in the Middle East and Africa has risen over 600% during the past year. Saudi Arabia’s announced plans to save its petroleum for export by going solar at home will add a great deal to regional demand if it sticks to those plans. (In most countries, petroleum isn’t used much for electricity generation as opposed to transportation, but in oil states such as Saudi Arabia it often is used in power plants; but that cuts down on foreign exchange earnings.)
The two Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan are emerging as the solar giants in India, with each having now passed half a gigawatt in solar electricity generation capacity. The two account for some 88% of all of India’s solar power. But Rajasthan may soon outstrip Gujarat, given the state’s solar-friendly commitments, its ample amounts of scorching sunlight, and its vast deserts.
Oil Shales, Shale Gas, Shale Fuel for thermal plants – so many ways that produce spent shale and ash, heavy metals and Uranium, and to poison the underground aquifers. Do we really see the dangers when work is hidden from eye-sight by doing it under-ground?
April 15-21, 2013, I participated on a trip to Baltic Sea States of the KPV (Komunal Politische Vereignigung) of the Politische Akademie of the Austrian Peoples Party (OEVP). Above took us to Estonia Saturday April-20 to Sunday April 21-st. This was a weekend and it might have been a too short time for serious learning about matters of Energy Policy. But I was fortunate to come back with enough information because I had the chance to meet very helpful people and I was prepared ahead with my questions.
We drove from St. Petersburg in Russia to Narva in Estonia and then continued to the capital – Tallinn. We had the luck of having a very good Estonian guide and were honored that evening with a reception at the residence of Austrian Ambassador H. E. Ms. Renate Kobler who invited as well local and Austrian resource people and made sure to establish contacts according to our interests.
I had in effect two different set of interests. One was in regard to a transportation policy instituted this year by the city of Tallinn that offers free rides on the electric street-cars to documented residents of the city while having increased charges for the out-of-towners. The idea behind this being that people will be moving back to the city from the suburbs and increase the tax roles thus making up for some of the losses and allow for gains in air quality by getting out of their cars. I learned that though nice in theory, seemingly it did not work in practice because it applied mainly to the poor – so it did not result in enhanced income from taxes leaving just the lower income from the tram-rides. The topic was originally brought to my attention by the Austrian Standard of April 5, 2013.
This was the minor interest of my two suggested topics.
The other topic – and that one of major interest these days – dealt with the use of oil-shales for energy – an issue of global importance when Shale-Gas has become the energy interests’ battle cry. It was brought out of obscurity in the United States, and Europe is talking as if it was going to follow suit. Austria has also shales and at present media battles rage between business interests and the environmentalists – with the Eurosolar monthly table all convinced that Austria can become energy self-sufficient without touching the shales.
Estonia, as well as Spain, are countries with experience in what can happen when energy is obtained from these shales.
Under the Soviets, the shales were mined and used like a lower grade coal in thermal power plants. What was left are mountains of ash from the combustion process and mountains of spent shales from the retorting process in which the product was a synthetic crude oil. These mountains of by-product contain heavy metals and when washed by rains these heavy metals poisoned the underground water, thus making it unusable for drinking and agriculture. Everybody I talked to told me the same thing – the losses around Narva are immense.
Wikipedia tells us: “Oil shale in Estonia is an important resource for the national economy. Estonia‘s oil shale deposits account for just 17% of total deposits in the European Union but the country generates 90% of its power from this source. The oil shale industry in Estonia employs 7,500 people—about one percent of the national work force—and accounts for four percent of its gross domestic product.
There are two kinds of oil shale in Estonia – Dictyonema argillite (claystone) and kukersite. The first attempt to establish an open-cast oil shale pit and to start oil production was undertaken in 1838. Modern utilization of oil shale commenced in 1916. Production began in 1921 and the generation of power from oil shale in 1924.
In 2005 Estonia was the leading producer of shale oil in the world. Of all the power plants fired by oil shale, the largest was in this country. As of 2007, six mines (open cast or underground) were extracting oil shale in Estonia.“
Kukersite, named after the Kukruse settlement in Estonia, is the better quality shale. Estonian kukersite deposits are one of the world’s highest-grade shale deposits with more than 40% organic content and 66% conversion ratio into shale oil and oil shale gas. They have relatively a lower content of heavy metals.
in the 1830s, although the attempt of shale oil distillation failed, oil shale was used as a low-grade fuel. Then studies of Estonian oil shale resources and mining possibilities intensified in the beginning of 20th century because of industrial development of Saint Petersburg and a shortage of fuel resources in the region. Finally – the world’s two largest oil shale-fired power stations – Balti Power Plant and Eesti Power Plant (known as the Narva Power Plants) – were opened in 1965 and in 1973. Because of the success of oil shale-based power generation, Estonian oil shale production peaked in 1980 at 31.35 million tonnes. In 2004, two power units with circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) boilers were put into operation at Narva Power Plant. In 1984, the scientific-technical journal Oil Shale was founded in Estonia.
Some of the spent shale is used in cement manufacturing and Uranium is a by-product.
Kerogen (from Greek for wax + -gen, that which produces) is a mixture of organic chemical compounds that make up a portion of the organic matter in sedimentary rocks. It is insoluble in normal organic solvents because of a huge molecular weight. The soluble portion is known as bitumen. When heated to the right temperatures in the Earth’s crust, (oil window ca. 60–160 °C, gas window ca. 150–200 °C, both depending on how quickly the source rock is heated) some types of kerogen release crude oil or natural gas, collectively known as hydrocarbons (fossil fuels). When such kerogens are present in high concentration in rocks such as shale they form possible source rocks. Shales rich in kerogens that have not been heated to a warmer temperature to release their hydrocarbons will eventually form oil shale deposits. (The name “kerogen” was introduced by the Scottish organic chemist Alexander Crum Brown in 1906.)
What above tells us is that the organic matter in shales is in the form of very large molecular weight polymers. These can be deconstructed at high temperature in retorts, and then the quality of the remaining ash (or spent shale) can be investigated and the potential damage to the environment assessed. An alternative could be to create a fire underground and collect above ground the released oil or gas created by breaking up the kerogen polymer. In such case the damage from the ash cannot be assessed without knowing the underground conditions and where the underground waters will take the released heavy metals. The Shale Gas operations now in the United States are underground production sites explained as examples of Hydro-Fracking which sounds incoherent when we do not know the operating temperatures which are needed to break chemical bonds of that polymer. Neither the new American production companies nor the EU Shale Gas production interests give us such technology details as they did not even obtain patents that would have required transparency.
This present posting has an added purpose.
I learned that June 10-13, 2013, the Estonian users of shale-for-energy intend a Shales Symposium in Tallinn as a follow up to the 2006 Symposium that was held in Ammann, Jordan.
The Symposium in Tallinn will be followed by a Field Trip to Estonian oil shale processing industry – an extraordinary opportunity to visit the most important sites of Estonian oil shale industry, including the new, recently completed Enefit280 Oil Plant.
I would like to hope that the European Commission send some inquisitive people to that symposium in order to learn about the side-effects or the environmentally harming “externalities” that could cause harm to the underground aquifers.
Further, as mentioned at the beginning, another European location were there was experience with Oil Shale Retorting is Puertollano, in the Ciudad Real region of Spain. With information from these sites the EU could be in a better position to judge the issues involved.
I was personally involved with the Purtollano plant of the Empressa Nacional de Pisara Bituminosa Calvo Sotelo in 1959. That plant was producing lubricants or viscous petroleum product alternatives in huge retorts and leaving behind mountains of spent shale as well. Looking at the remains of those mountains – in Puertollano and in Narva, could help the decision making process at the EU.
We realize the importance of the energy independence goal – but as it can be reached in various ways, it is important to start out with open eyes.
If the goal is to reduce CO2 Emissions – Trading in Permits to Pollute was born at a dead-end and today’s European trading in such permits shows above to be true. New free thinking – that is outside the banking system – is being called for.
In Europe, Paid Permits for Pollution Are Fizzling.
Andrew Testa for The International Herald Tribune
By STANLEY REED and MARK SCOTT
Published: April 21, 2013
LONDON — On a showery afternoon last week in West London, a ripple of enthusiasm went through the trading floor of CF Partners, a privately owned financial company. The price of carbon allowances, shown in green lights on a board hanging from the ceiling, was creeping up toward three euros. That is pretty small change — $3.90, or only about 10 percent of what the price was in 2008. But to the traders it came as a relief after the market had gone into free fall to record lows two days earlier, after the European Parliament spurned an effort to shore up prices by shrinking the number of allowances.
“The market still stands,” said Thomas Rassmuson, a native of Sweden who founded the company with Jonathan Navon, a Briton, in 2006.
Still, Europe’s carbon market, a pioneering effort to use markets to regulate greenhouse gases, is having a hard time staying upright.
This year has been stomach-churning for the people who make their living in the arcane world of trading emissions permits. The most recent volatility comes on top of years of uncertainty during which prices have fluctuated from $40 to nearly zero for the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide.
More important, though, than lost jobs and diminished payouts for traders and bankers, the penny ante price of carbon credits means the market is not doing its job: pushing polluters to reduce carbon emissions, which most climate scientists believe contribute to global warming.
The market for these credits, officially called European Union Allowances, or E.U.A.’s, has been both unstable and under sharp downward pressure this year because of a huge oversupply and a stream of bad political and economic news. On April 16, for instance, after the European Parliament voted down the proposed reduction in the number of credits, prices dropped about 50 percent, to 2.63 euros from nearly 5, in 10 minutes.
“No one was going to buy” on the way down, said Fred Payne, a trader with CF Partners.
Europe’s troubled experience with carbon trading has also discouraged efforts to establish large-scale carbon trading systems in other countries, including the United States, although California and a group of Northeastern states have set up smaller regional markets.
Traders do not mind big price swings in any market — in fact, they can make a lot of money if they play them right.
But over time, the declining prices for the credits have sapped the European market of value, legitimacy and liquidity — the ease with which the allowances can be traded — making it less attractive for financial professionals.
A few years ago, analysts thought world carbon markets were heading for the $2 trillion mark by the end of this decade.
Today, the reality looks much more modest. Total trading last year was 62 billion euros, down from 96 billion in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, a market research firm based in Oslo. Close to 90 percent of that activity was in Europe, while North American trading represented less than 1 percent of worldwide market value.
Financial institutions that had rushed to increase staff have shrunk their carbon desks. Companies have also laid off other professionals who helped set up greenhouse gas reduction projects in developing countries like China and India.
When the emissions trading system was started in 2005, the goal was to create a global model for raising the costs of emitting greenhouse gases and for prodding industrial polluters to switch from burning fossil fuels to using clean-energy alternatives like wind and solar.
When carbon prices hit their highs of more than 30 euros in 2008 and companies spent billions to invest in renewables, policy makers hailed the market as a success. But then prices began to fall. And at current levels, they are far too low to change companies’ behaviors, analysts say. Emitting a ton of carbon dioxide costs about the same as a hamburger.
“At the moment, the carbon price does not give any signal for investment,” said Hans Bünting, chief executive of RWE, one of the largest utilities in Germany and Europe.
This cap-and-trade system in Europe places a ceiling on emissions. At the end of each year, companies like electric utilities or steel manufacturers must hand over to the national authorities the permits equivalent to the amount gases emitted.
Until the end of 2012, these credits were given to companies free according to their estimated output of greenhouse gases. Policy makers wanted to jump-start the trading market and avoid higher costs for consumers.
Beginning this year, energy companies must buy an increasing proportion of their credits in national auctions. Industrial companies like steel plants will follow later this decade.
Companies and other financial players like banks and hedge funds can also acquire and trade the allowances on exchanges like the Intercontinental Exchange, based in Atlanta. Over time the number of credits is meant to fall gradually, theoretically raising prices and cutting pollution.
The reality has been far different because of serious flaws in the design of the system. To win over companies and skeptical countries like Poland, which burn a lot of coal, far too many credits have been handed out.
At the same time, Europe’s debilitating economic slowdown has sharply curtailed industrial activity and reduced the Continent’s overall carbon emissions.
Steel making in Europe, for instance, has fallen about 30 percent since 2007, while new car registrations were at their lowest level last year since 1995.
Big investments in renewable energy sources like wind and solar also reduced carbon emissions, which have fallen about 10 percent in Europe since 2007.
As a result, there is a vast surplus of permits — about 800 million tons’ worth, according to Point Carbon. That has caused prices to plunge.
The cost of carbon is far too low to force electric utilities in Europe to switch from burning coal, a major polluter, to much cleaner natural gas. Just the opposite: Britain increased coal burning for electricity more than 30 percent last year, while cutting back gas use a similar amount, and other West European nations increased their coal use as well.
“The European energy scene is not a good one,” said Andrew Brown, head of exploration and production at Royal Dutch Shell. “They haven’t got the right balance in terms of promoting gas.”
Fearing that prices might go to zero because of the huge oversupply, the European authorities proposed a short-term solution known as backloading, which would have delayed the scheduled auctioning of a large portion of the credits that were supposed to be sold over the next three years. But the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted the measure down on April 16.
Lawmakers were worried about tampering with the market as well as doing anything that might increase energy costs in the struggling economy.
“It was the worst possible moment to try to implement something like that,” said Francesco Starace, chief executive of Enel Green Power, one of the largest European green-energy companies, which is based in Rome.
The European authorities, led by Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate change, have not given up on fixing the system. But analysts like Stig Scholset, at Point Carbon, say that there is not much the authorities can do in the short term and that prices may slump for months, if not years.
That means more tough times for financial institutions. Particularly troubled is the business of investing in greenhouse gas abatement projects like wind farms or hydroelectric dams in developing countries like China. JPMorgan Chase paid more than $200 million for one of the largest investors in these projects, EcoSecurities, in 2009.
Financiers say these projects used to be gold mines, generating credits that industrial companies could use to offset their emissions elsewhere. But so many credits have been produced by these projects — on top of the existing oversupply of credits in Europe — that they are trading at about a third of a euro.
Market participants say they see many rivals pulling back from world carbon markets. Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany, has cut back its carbon trading. Smaller outfits like Mabanaft, based in Rotterdam, have also left the business.
Anthony Hobley, a lawyer in London and president of the Climate Market and Investors Association, an industry group, estimates that among the traders, analysts and bankers who flocked to the carbon markets in the early days, half may now be gone.
But carbon trading is unlikely to fade completely.
For one thing, European utilities and other companies now must buy the credits to comply with the rules. And they can buy credits to save for later use, when their emissions increase and the price of credits rises.
Despite Europe’s sputters, carbon trading is beginning to gain traction in places like China, Australia and New Zealand.
In London, Mr. Rassmuson concedes that the business has turned out to be more up-and-down than he anticipated when he and his partner set up their firm in a tiny two-man office in 2006.
But he said his firm was benefiting from others’ dropping out. He is also branching out into trading electric power and natural gas.
Like many in the carbon markets, he says what he is doing is not just about money.
“Trying to make the world more sustainable is important to us,” he said. “It is a good business opportunity that makes us proud.”
THE ISSUE IS NOW – HOW DO YOU STIMULATE INDUSTRIES THAT HELP REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS WITHOUT RESORTING TO THE ABOVE GIMMICK OF CARBON-POLLUTION TRADING-in-CERTIFICATES?
WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN BETTER A SYSTEM THAT IS BASED ON ORDERING THE POLLUTING INDUSTRIES IN A DIRECT WAY? DESPITE ANYTHING THAT IS BEING SAID BY THE BANKING FINANCIAL TRADING COMPANIES – MUCH MORE OF THE TRADING SYSTEM WAS BASED ON EXPORTING POLLUTION OVERSEAS – “ON THE HOT AIR BALLOONS THAT RESULTED BY CLOSING INEFFICIENT INDUSTRIES” and on FOREIGN AID PROJECTS THAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED ANYWAY. WE HOPE THAT BIG MARKETS LIKE THE EU, the US, and CHINA, ESTABLISH NOW INTERNAL SYSTEMS, MODELED IN PART BY THE THE COASTAL USA PROGRAMS in CALIFORNIA AND THE EAST COAST – AND ESTABLISH COUNTRY-WIDE PENALTIES PER TONE OF CO2 – and yes – penalty always hurts initially but change in behavior eventually bears fruit.
For the sake of our European Friends – There are two Europes Now – the Triple A North and the South that was kept alive by the image of a Common Market for the North. Oh Well – the Voters in the North seem to rebel now and call for the South to grow up.
The following is a presentation of facts that cannot be ignored anymore. Deserves close reading by those in the North that thought you can bumble your way through without creating a real union capable of calling out “it is all for one and not just one for all!” The EU is not just the fulfilling of the German dream of takeover of Europe by peaceful means. Cyprus dreaming of being the Mediterranean base of Russia? What else? Austria a bridge to the East? Yes, but only after twinning up with Finland.
Everyone learned a lesson from the “bail-in” of the Cypriot banks: Russian account holders who’d laundered and stored their money on the sunny island; bank bondholders who’d thought they’d always get bailed out; Cypriot politicians whose names showed up on lists of loans that had been extended by the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank but were then forgiven and written off. Even brand-new Finance Minister Michael Sarris who got axed because he’d been chairman of Laiki when this was going on. His lesson: when a cesspool of corruption blows up, no one is safe. And German politicians learned a lesson too: that it worked!
“With the Cyprus aid package, it was proven that countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland, if they stick together, are able to push for a strict stability course,” Hans Michelbach told the Handelsblatt. The chairman of the finance committee in the German Parliament and member of the CSU, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, called for deeper collaboration of the triple-A countries in the Eurozone “to strengthen the confidence of citizens and investors in the common currency.”
There are still five in that euro triple-A club: Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, and Luxembourg. “It would be good if we could also convince Luxembourg to participate more strongly in this stability collaboration,” he said. It would be in the best interest of Luxembourg as major financial center, he added. A reference to Luxembourg’s precarious status, as Cyprus had learned, of being a tiny country with banks so large that it can’t bail them out by itself.
To protect the euro, the alliance of the triple-A countries must be united firmly against large euro countries like Italy and France, he said. “Strong signals of stability would be of great importance for the Eurozone,” particularly now, given the “unclear situation” in Italy, renewed doubts about Greece, and the failure of the French government in its stability policies.
Exactly what French President François Hollande needs: the euro triple-A club breathing down his neck. He’s already in trouble at home. To reverse the slide, he got on state-owned France 2 TV last Thursday to speak to the French people so that they could see how his sincerity, wisdom, and economic policies would stop the country from sinking ever deeper into a quagmire.
And a quagmire it is: double-digit unemployment, a Purchasing Managers Index just above Greece’s, new vehicle sales that plunged almost 15% so far this year, a budget deficit that refuses to be brought under control…. He has tweaked some policy measures here and there. And he dug up a new version of the 75% income-tax bracket that had been squashed by the Constitutional Court. But Jérôme Cahuzac, the Budget Minister who’d tried to get the first version through the system, went up in flames over allegations of tax fraud and “tax fraud laundering.”
Now the people have had it. After the TV appearance, his approval rating, ten months into his term, plummeted another 6 points to 31%, a low that scandal-plagued Nicolas Sarkozy took four years to reach. And only 27% approved of his economic policies. “The French simply don’t want austerity,” lamented an unnamed government insider.
France was suffering the consequences of the “socialist experiments” of its government and was becoming less and less competitive, explained Michelbach. He emphasized that France would remain an important partner of Germany. He wasn’t kidding: France buys 10% of Germany’s exports and is crucial to the German economy. But if France didn’t change course, he said, that could become a “serious problem” for the Eurozone.
As opposed to the mere hiccups of Cyprus or Greece. More banks and more countries will require bailoutsSlovenia, Spain, Italy, and Malta are on the list. And no one wants to see France on that list. Even Italy is too large to get bailed out by other countriesthough it’s rich enough to bail itself out, à la Cyprus [ A "Politically Explosive" Secret: Italians Are Over Twice As Wealthy As Germans].
But in Germany, a revolt against these save-the-euro bailouts has been brewing for a while. With elections in September, it’s taking on volume and voices, and the structure of a political party, the Alternative for Germany, not unpalatable radicals but the educated bourgeoisie, and they want to stop the bailouts and dump the euro.
The government is feeling the heat. No one can afford to lose votes. Michelbach’s triple-A club, a line of demarcation in the Eurozone, is one of the reactions. Merkel might benefit from it in the elections. The other four countries might find if appealing, though it will be of dubious appeal in the rest of the Eurozone. But if efforts fail to fix the Eurozone’s problemsand the Eurozone lumbering that waya tightly knit triple-A club could weather the storm together, more stable and more unified than the Eurozone ever was. And Michelbach had just floated a version of that idea.
Every country in the Eurozone has its own collection of big fat lies that politicians and Eurocrats have served up in order to make the euro and the subsequent bailouts or austerity measures less unappetizing. Here are some from the German point of view…. Ten Big Fat Lies To Keep The Euro Dream Alive
Wolf Richter wrote also – “White House Hypocrisy And Trade Sanctions Against China.” - Practically every car sold in the US contains Chinese-made components. But suddenly, in the middle of a heated presidential campaign, the Obama administration decided to do something about it.
Wolf Richter is a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience.
In www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/w… he explains “Having worked a bit on international deals, and for companies operating in foreign markets, cross border transactions have an even lower success rate than domestic ones. The big reason is the one mentioned here, which is marked cultural incompatibility between the seller and buyer. Here the Chinese did less badly than they could have (they could have tried forcing Chinese practices on the German operation, which would have destroyed the value of the asset). But the logic of the transaction was unclear. Was it technology transfer? Consolidation? It appears both might have been goals, and neither happened very much.
But I find it intriguing that as lousy as the Japanese were at doing deals (they found it hard to understand that the contract was the deal, and were too inclined to overpay), they were good at managing workers in manufacturing operations (service businesses were another kettle of fish, there they tended to drive Americans crazy). This is a skill the Chinese will have to master, since they desperately need to re-invest their surpluses, and they are trying to acquire more real-economy assets.” FASCINATING.
His insights in Wall Street machinations are also very good.
We posted recently the Kishore Mahbubani view of the world that points at US, CHINA, RUSSIA, INDIA, The EU, BRAZIL, and NIGERIA as the Seven Front-line leading powers of the World. Of these the US and a United Europe are the powers of the democratic west – something of the past – with China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Nigeria the rising powers of the future. Interesting – here a deviation from what the UN’s BRICS that has South Africa and not Nigeria, as representatives of the black African continent.
Both – Nigeria and South Africa are not typical of the rest of Africa – the one ruled by a Muslim majority and based on Petro-money, the other ruled by a Western oriented government that has no clear independent economic policy but was seen for years as the bridge for Africa’s development. Mahbubani, who has clear leaning towards the Islamic world, likes to believe that eventually it will be Nigeria that will emerge as Africa’s main power. Whatever – Africa is the weakest BRIC and in many fora represented well by Brazil. I pick on this as a side issue to today’s interesting news of a Putin backed attempt at placing Russia, via South Africa, at the center of an effort to create a non-Western hub for the World economy and wrestle away the Western economic hegemony from a shriveling North Atlantic alliance anchored at Washington. The New York Times article that brought these latest news to our attention is obviously a US inspired reporting exercise.
Whatever – the facts are that the money is now mainly with China and the two big Western blocks, the United States of America, and the “not-yet-united” States of Europe, depend on China money, and as these last few weeks – the Greek tragedy in Greece and Cyprus – showed that eventually the Europeans might yet ask for hand-outs in Moscow. This was not wasted on the established BRICS and Mr. Putin moved on. The International Monetary system built after WWII – The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – can be pushed aside in major parts of the Developing World.
It is not ingenious to point at the five BRICS that they are very different States – surely they are different among themselves – China, India, Russia, and Brazil have different political systems but are united in their interest to nudge aside the US from the position of manager of the world – and they see now their chance to do so.
Group of Emerging Nations Plans to Form Development Bank.
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa, just ahead of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s defense minister.
Published: March 26, 2013
JOHANNESBURG — A group of five emerging world economic powers met in Africa for the first time Tuesday, gathering in South Africa for a summit meeting at which they plan to announce the creation of a new development bank, a direct challenge to the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all members of the so-called BRICS Group of developing nations, have agreed to create the bank to focus on infrastructure and development in emerging markets. The countries are also planning to discuss pooling their foreign reserves as a bulwark against currency crises, part of a growing effort by emerging economic powers to build institutions and forums that are alternatives to Western-dominated ones.
“Up until now, it has been a loose arrangement of five countries meeting once a year,” said Abdullah Verachia, director of the Frontier Advisory Group, which focuses on emerging markets. “It is going to be the first real institution we have seen.”
But the alliance faces serious questions about whether the member countries have enough in common and enough shared goals to function effectively as a counterweight to the West.
“Despite the political rhetoric around partnerships, there is a huge amount of competition between the countries,” Mr. Verachia said.
For all the talk of solidarity among emerging giants, the group’s concrete achievements have been few since its first full meeting, in Russia in 2009. This is partly because its members are deeply divided on some basic issues and are in many ways rivals, not allies, in the global economy.
They have widely divergent economies, disparate foreign policy aims and different forms of government. India, Brazil and South Africa have strong democratic traditions, while Russia and China are autocratic.
The bloc even struggles to agree on overhauling international institutions. India, Brazil and South Africa want permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council, for example, but China, which already has one, has shown little interest in shaking up the status quo.
The developing countries in the bloc hardly invest in one another, preferring their neighbors and the developed world’s major economies, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Just 2.5 percent of foreign investment by BRICS countries goes to other countries in the group, the report said, while more than 40 percent of their foreign investment goes to the developed world’s largest economies, the European Union, the United States and Japan.
Africa, home to several of the world’s fastest-growing economies, drew less than 5 percent of total investment from BRICS nations, the report said. France and the United States still have the highest rate of foreign investment in Africa. Despite China’s reputation for heavy investment in Africa, Malaysia has actually invested $2 billion more in Africa than China has.
Still, 15 African heads of state were invited to the summit meeting in South Africa as observers, a sign of the continent’s increasing importance as an investment destination for all of the BRICS countries.
China is in many ways a major competitor of its fellow BRICS member, South Africa. South African manufacturers, retail chains, cellphone service providers, mining operations and tourism companies have bet heavily on African economic growth and in some ways go head-to-head against Chinese companies on the continent.
South Africa is playing host for the first time since becoming the newest member of what had been known previously as BRIC. Many analysts have questioned South Africa’s inclusion in the group because its economy is tiny compared with the other members, ranking 28th in the world, and its growth rates in recent years have been anemic.
In an interview last year with a South African newspaper, Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs executive who coined the term BRIC, said South Africa did not belong in the group.
“South Africa has too small an economy,” Mr. O’Neill told the newspaper, The Mail & Guardian. “There are not many similarities with the other four countries in terms of the numbers. In fact, South Africa’s inclusion has somewhat weakened the group’s power.”
But South Africa’s sluggish growth has become the rule, not the exception, among the onetime powerhouse nations. India’s hopes of reaching double-digit growth have ebbed. Brazil’s surging economy, credited with pulling millions out of poverty, has cooled drastically. Even China’s growth has slowed.
And once welcome, Chinese investment in Africa is viewed with increasing suspicion.
On a visit to Beijing last year, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa warned that Chinese trade ties in Africa were following a troubling pattern.
“Africa’s commitment to China’s development has been demonstrated by supply of raw materials, other products and technology transfer,” Mr. Zuma said. “This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.”
Mr. Zuma appeared to have a change of heart before the summit meeting, saying Monday that China does not approach Africa with a colonial attitude.
But other African leaders are not so sure. —– Lamido Sanusi, governor of Nigeria’s central bank, wrote in an opinion article published in The Financial Times this month that China’s approach to Africa is in many ways as exploitative as the West’s has been.
“China is no longer a fellow underdeveloped economy — it is the world’s second-biggest, capable of the same forms of exploitation as the West,” he wrote. “It is a significant contributor to Africa’s de-industrialization and under-development.”
This article appeared in print on March 27, 2013, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Group of Emerging Nations Plans to Form Development Bank.
The Media finally catches up to it – Cyprus – Will Russia get now a piece as it did years ago in Syria? This might be “plan D” that lets the potentially gas rich mini-State float away from the EURO and eventually the EU. Could an Obama Foray help by reconciling Turkey and Cyprus now that Greece was weakened by its own crisis?
Russian PM lectures Barroso on Cyprus.
Medvedev: ‘The euro crisis has strengthened ideas that Europe is in decline.’
BRUSSELS - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev humbled European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso in public remarks on Thursday (21 March) over the EU’s handling of Cyprus.
Speaking alongside Barroso at a conference in Moscow, he called the EU’s original Cypriot bailout idea “to put it mildly, surprising … absurd … preposterous.”
“The situation is unpredictable and inconsistent. It [the bailout model] has been reviewed several times. I browsed the Internet this morning and I saw another Plan B, or a Plan C or whatever,” he noted.
He upbraided EU institutions for failing to give Moscow due notice of its decision.
“The system of early warning did not work very well … that means we need to work on it,” he said.
He also quoted unnamed Russian “eurosceptics” as saying: “The euro crisis has strengthened ideas that Europe is in decline in the 21st century … that the European project has turned out to be too cumbersome.”
Earlier the same say, he told Russian newswire Interfax that he is thinking of reducing Russia’s holding of euro-denominated currency reserves.
In a sign of broader Russian upset, Leonid Grigoriev, an academic and a former Russian deputy finance minister, told a separate news conference that Russian money is no longer safe anywhere in the EU.
“The Cyprus situation has created new uncertainty in the banking sector. People have started thinking whether the same can happen elsewhere, in Spain, Portugal, Ireland?” he said.
The EU’s Plan A for Cyprus was to lend it €10 billion, but to impose a 7-to-10 percent levy on all Cypriot savers, including Russian expats, who alone stood to lose €2 billion.
It has now been scrapped.
It is unclear what new model might be found.
But the Cypriot finance minister, Michael Sarris, also in Moscow on Thursday, said he is in talks to give Russia shares in Cypriot “banks, natural gas [reserves]” in return for Russian bailout money.
For his part, Barroso told Medvedev that the EU could not have warned Russia even if it wanted to.
“Regarding the conclusions of the last Eurogroup [euro finance ministers, who drew up Plan A], Russia was not informed because the governments of Europe were not informed – let’s be completely open and honest about that issue. There was not a pre-decision before the Eurogroup meeting. The Eurogroup meeting concluded, I think, in the very early hours of Saturday and the decision was the result of a compromise,” he said.
He added: “Don’t believe in this idea of the decline of Europe … The European Union is stronger than it is today fashionable to admit.”
Leaked documents on internal EU talks seen by the Reuters news agency give substance to Russia’s criticism, however.
The notes record remarks by finance officials from euro-using countries during a panicky conference call about Cyprus held on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, a French official said Cyprus’ decision not to take part in the phone-debate is “a big problem … We have never seen this.”
A German official said Cyprus might quit the euro and there is a need to “ring-fence” other countries from contagion.
A European Central Bank official said there is a “very difficult situation” because savers might pull money from the island if banks re-open next week.
Meanwhile, Thomas Wieser, an Austrian-origin EU official who chaired the phone-meeting, described the situation as “foggy.” He added: “The economy is going to tank in Cyprus no matter what.”
To the above we add that Turkey, its holding onto North Cyprus, and its interest in the gas fields that stretch from Cyprus to Israel and Lebanon, having first development seen by Israel, are part of the larger scope of the Cyprus potential move away from the EU. But, In effect, these other aspects might make the EU stiffen up in a bailing out effort conditioned only on reorganizing some of the Cypriot Banks – letting Russian oligarchs foot part of the bill – without selling to Russia port holdings in the Mediterranean. Seeing a Syria solution that drives out Russia from its port facilities there, may be part of the American interest in the region as well. In short – Cyprus is not Iceland – this because it is geographically located in a very complicated region of the Outer EU. Is it so that an Obama trip could help by forcing a Cyprus-Turkey reconciliation first?
We just found out that The New York Times is catching up:
Googling for “What If: Imagining the Habsburg Monarchy as Today’s Center of the World” I got the following links on page 1.
The idea seems fascinating and not farfetched and it serves as a title of a new book that is being presented by Central European and Germanic institutions in New York City. Considering that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was in effect a multicultural United Nations of its time – it is fascinating to think what it could have meant as an example for today’s European Union and even the UN. We were flabbergasted finding ourselves in the google list – reference # 4 as we also ask – what if the rather benevolent Habsburgian Dictatorship would have survived and become a model for empire building that allows for the benefits of multiculturalism as an ideal Alliance of Civilizations? What if?
What if? This question is the central theme of the book in German titled Der Komet, written by Hannes Stein, and published by Galiani in Berlin, Germany.
What if the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand had not been shot in Sarajevo? What if the 20th century had never existed? What if the house of Hapsburg still existed today? What if Auschwitz had just been a railway junction in Galicia? What if the Germans had not started two World Wars and organized the largest genocide in history but had settled the moon instead? What if Lenin had died in Zurich as an unknown journalist?
“Absurd and believable, strange and ridiculous, sophisticated and surprising, wonderful and bizarre, hilarious and tragic, completely unconventional: a fabulous book dealing with a fantastic world in which you lose yourself in its obliqueness” – Vea Kaiser
Hannes Stein (born 1965 in Munich) grew up in Salzburg. He studied English and American studies as well as philosophy in Hamburg. After spending a long time in Israel, Stein immigrated to the US where he currently lives in Riverdale. He worked as a journalist for various German newspapers and magazines (FAZ, Spiegel, Cicero, Merkur) and has been the editor of “Literarische Welt” in Berlin. At present, he works as cultural
Theater Nestroyhof – Hamakom • Nestroyplatz 1 • 1020 Wien • T +43 1 8900 314 • F +43 1 8900 314 – 15 • firstname.lastname@example.org
BUCHPRÄSENTATION - MARCH 17, 2013, 7 PM
Der Schlüsselsatz dieses Buches findet sich ziemlich weit hinten, gesprochen wird er anno 1914, am 28. Juni, vom österreichischen Thronfolger. Er lautet „I bin doch ned deppat, i fohr wieder z´haus“. Sprach‘s, kehrte auf dem Absatz um, und ging samt leicht verletzter Gattin zurück nach Wien.
Grade waren sie in Sarajewo beim Weg in die Stadt von einem Attentäter mit einer Bombe beworfen worden, die gerade noch einmal abgewehrt werden konnte – möglichen weiteren Angriffen wollte er sich und seine geliebte Frau nicht aussetzen.
Hätte er dies damals wirklich so gemacht, wäre es nie zu dem zweiten Attentat am selben Tag gekommen und die Welt könnte so aussehen, wie sie es in Hannes Steins Debütroman tut.
Es gab keinen ersten Weltkrieg und damit auch keinen zweiten, einen ‚kalten‘ solchen natürlich erst recht nicht. Seit Jahrzehnten herrscht Friede auf der Welt (von einigen japanischen Aggressionen gegen asiatische Anrainerstaaten abgesehen). Amerika ist ein unterentwickelter Kontinent, der weitgehend von Cowboys und Hinterwäldlern besiedelt ist. Technische Neuerungen gehen in aller Regel von Deutschland aus, einem weitgehend charmefreien doch hocherfolgreichen Land der Erfinder, Bastler und Tüftler: eine Art Strebernation im europäischen Staatsklassenzimmer. Frankreich, die Schweiz und San Marino sind die einzigen Republiken, der Rest Europas ist solide in der Hand uralter Monarchien.
Wien wiederum, wo Hannes Steins Der Komet spielt, ist das ziemlich behäbige Zentrum der westlichen und damit der ganzen Welt (denn in den britischen, französischen und deutschen Kolonien tut sich nicht viel), eine Stadt voller Juden und Psychoanalytiker und natürlich einem Monarchen – Seiner Kaiserlichen und Königlichen Majestät, Franz Joseph II.
In dieser Szenerie lässt Hannes Stein seinen jungen und etwas tumben Protagonisten Alexej von Repkin eine Liaison mit einer verheirateten Gesellschaftsdame eingehen, deren Mann gerade auf dem Mond weilt (eine deutsche Kolonie, auf der der Österreicher aber in seiner Eigenschaft als k.u.k Hofastronom arbeiten darf). Die Nachrichten allerdings, die er von dort sendet, sind dramatisch. Ein Komet rast auf Kollisionskurs auf die Erde zu. Voraussichtlicher Einschlagtermin: Mitte September 2001.
A Kurt Bayer comment on European Banking that leads to re-birth of Populism, that could also be viewed in context of the US and Israel. It is the bankers that give us now clowns, but please do not forget, they can bring to life also failed painters and assorted demagogues.
March 3, 2013
The public media and European mainstream parties’ politicians are unisono lamenting the rise of populism as manifested by the strong showing of Beppe Grillo in Italy’s parliamentary election last weekend. They decry, as they did earlier in the case of Greece, when the “populist” Syriza party nearly won the election, the irresponsibility, the negativism, the “against-it-all” attitude of these parties’ leaders. Let us add to these election results the street demonstrations and battles in Greece, in Spain, in Portugal, in Bulgaria, in Slovenia – all these before the background of people jumping to death from windows of their to-be-repossessed apartments, of soup kitchens, of soaring unemployment rates (especially, and even more tragically, of the young), and of the horrifying increase in poverty rates in many of these and other countries.
It does seem, that in spite of these politicians’ lamentoes, that European citizens are no longer accepting the crisis resolution policies imposed on them by politicians – at the bidding of financial markets. Yes, Mario Monti, the unelected and now defeated prime minister, managed to calm “market fears”, yes, Mario Draghi, the ECB president, managed to do the same – and more – by last fall promising to “do everything necessary” to enable European states’ return to the financial markets, yes, some of the Southern states (plus Ireland) were able during the past months to place bond auctions at “sustainable” yields (i.e. below the benchmark of 6%). But the concomitant “aid programs” by the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, the dreaded “troika” are what the restive populations are no longer willing to swallow. Since governments took over bank debt, the citizens have been called upon to foot the bill, by having their taxes increased, government expenditures, especially social expenditures, cut and losing their jobs as a result of the persistent recession which these programs (and the similar, if less stringent “debt brake” conditions imposed on all EU countries. There is already talk about a “lost decade” for Europe.
With all this austerity (which is portrayed as without alternative) it is completely unclear where future growth should come from even after this decade. The mainstream recipe that balanced budgets (and their corresponding structural reforms) guarantee growth has been proven false, not only in theory, but also in empirical practice. If the second largest economic block in the world (with about 18 trillion $ in GDP, about one fourth of the world economy) reduces public sector demand in addition to falling demand in the private sector, this affects the whole world. This is different from the frequently cited more recent cases, where one individual country managed to export its way out of recession, when all other countries were growing and thus increasing their demand.
In this situation, the EU parliament has achieved a spectacular success, by agreeing (also with EU Finance Ministers) to limit bankers’ bonus payments to 100% of base salary (in exceptional cases to 200%). This is part of a hard-fought package setting new rules for European banks’ equity and liquidity requirements. There are widespread “populism” cries by especially English bankers, but also their colleagues around Europe that this would drive out banking from Europe, that this is a Continental coup to transfer banking business from London to Paris or Frankfurt (??), that this is “unfair”. The more sanguine bankers say (see eg. Financial Times March 2, 2013) that this just means that their base salary will have to be doubled as a consequence. Tory MPs are fuming and using this as an additional argument that the UK should leave the EU as soon as possible. Of course, they do not mention the fact that it was their leader, David Cameron, who pulled the Tories out of the European Peoples’ Party group, which – in the form of the Austrian Othmar Karas – was leading the negotiations of the European Parliament with the Finance Ministers. They also forget to mention that banking lobbies (led by the English) have delayed and watered down the other parts of the Banking package to be concluded.
The Greek and Italian elections, the street protests, the events in many other European countries should lead to a realization by the EU policy makers, both in the Central Bank, in the Commission and in the Council, that it is not just “clowns” (@ Peer Steinbruck, the Social Democratic candidate for the German premiership) who say “no more” to this oppressive economic policy recipe, but it is large parts of the European populations who have not only lost confidence that these recipes will work, but actively are against them – because they see that as in the Great Depression of the late 1920s – they lead to impoverishment and political disaster. Politicians should listen more closely to their populations, and less to the financial sector lobbyists, who have caused this crisis and refuse to play their part in shouldering their part of the burden. It was the lobbyists’ close connection to the politicians who made banking debts into government debt, it was their whisperings which had told politicians fairy tales about the financial markets being the most efficient markets in the world, thus self-regulation and “light-touch” regulation was all that was needed.
What are the alternatives?
The primary policy objective should not be to “return countries to financial markets’ access”, but to have indebted states return to a sustainable economic and social policy path which improves the welfare of their populations. To this end, government debt financing should be taken away from financial markets and turned over to a publicly accountable public institutions (the ECB or the ESM with a banking licence).
As far as bank debt is concerned, a European plan must be developed with a medium-term view of how the European Financial sector should look like in 10-20 years. This would counter-act the present “re-nationalization” trends where every country attempts to save its banks (frequently at the expense of others) at high costs to the taxpayers. Some banks will need to be closed, others restructured, and effective regulation set up. It is clear that (some) debts will need to be repaid, but much of bank debt should be paid by bank owners and their bondholders, not by taxpayers. For highly indebted bank sectors, a European bank resolution fund could take over some of the debt.
It is true that a number of “problem countries” in the EU have pursued wrong policies in the past, e.g. waste of public (EU and national) funds, neglect of innovation and R&D policies, high military expenditures, neglect of industrial policies, neglect of modern education systems, neglect of building up sustainable energy systems (both on the supply and demand side), and many more. Each country needs to develop a positive vision of where it wants to stand in 10 years’ time, and then select the appropriate instruments, and convince its EU partners of its way.
At a European level, a new more comprehensive economic policy umbrella must be opened. The nearly exclusive attention to budget consolidation was geared to placating the financial markets – who also are getting cold feet seeing what “their” policies do to growth (see the most recent downgrade of the UK). It must throw off the yoke of financial market dictate and turn itself to strengthening the European model, with a view to balance social, economic and environmental requirements for the future.
European civil society is growing together. Public institutions, like the labor movement, are not. In the face of the crisis, labor unions are re-nationalizing, attempting to save jobs for their own members at the expense of their foreign colleagues. They should learn from the business lobby, which has been much more successful in convincing European and national policy makers of their own interests.
Ambassador Peter Thompson from Fiji calls at the Arria-formula non-meeting at the Security Council for the continuation of the ruinous policies of the UN in matters of Climate Change and Sustainable Development by sticking with the leadership of G77 & China, in the political confrontation with the West, and undermining the slight chance of action that only the UNSC can bring about at the UN.
Ambassador Peter Thompson from Fiji speaks for the G 77 and China at the Arria Formula Non-meeting at the UNSC and the same day speaks also on the MDGs at a different meeting at the UN. We have here both his presentations.
To put it in diplomatic terms, we are amazed how the representative of a Small Islands State participates in the thrashing of its own future by serving the forces of business-as-usual that came about because of the influence the Islamic Oil States have on what at the UN goes under the term G 77 & China.
The Arria formula meeting of the Security Council – by its own definition a Non-meeting – came about as Member States with eyes open – have realized that the UN was incapable of moving on the issue of Climate Change, and this while practically every UN State has already stories to tell about losses from Climate Change – within their own territory or in States they do business with. The most hurt are obvious the Small Island States that might be completely wiped out by the effects of man-made Climate Change committed by other States. As such, transferring the issue to the Security Council, from the moribund UNFCCC and UNCSD, is an attempt to move the issue from the General Assembly UN debating club to the only UN institution that has the power to act. The alternative would be to close this UN, like the League of Nations was closed, and negotiate anew an organization with 193 Nations participating in a decision-for-action new mechanism. Every decent person would say this alternative will be unachievable. So what does Ambassador Peter Thompson, a traitor to the SIDS, mean by his statement on behalf of the negativistic uncounted governments from among the 77+China?
Further, the UNCSD will expire at the 2013 General Assembly meeting this coming September – as per a decision of the Rio+20 meeting June 2012. They will be replaced by a mechanism yet unknown, and dependent on recommendations that will be forthcoming from a special panel that was established in September 2012. The Issues of the MDGs and the newly to be formulated Sustainable Development Goals is also pending in the air – and that is part of the decisions of new UN formulas for 2015 and beyond. The distinguished Ambassador does seem to ignore all of this and try instead to stick with the formula of things that were totally rejected in Rio. Our conclusion is thus in non-diplomatic terms – he is sticking with the old ways that are responsible for the inaction at the UN that resulted in 20 wasted years, and at the same time puts sticks into the possible wheels of the UNSC with which some try to find ways to move out from the UN swamp.
In our postings about the Arria-formula meeting of Friday, February 15th we were able to bring forward the ridiculous Statement made by Egypt that clearly shows, that though it started out differently it got bent in haste to the same conclusions as the G77+China with even not having had the time to reconsider its own numbering system from the previous Arab League bent. The ray of light comes from Pakistan that seemingly decided to cosponsor the call to the Arria formula event, and obviously the SIDS that part now ways with the G77&China that did nothing for them in these lost 20 years.
Statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China by Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations and Chairman of the Group of 77, at the Arria-formula meeting on the security dimensions of climate change (New York, 15 February 2013).
I acknowledge the presence of Distinguished Panelist and Guest Speakers in today’s event. I thank the Secretary General for his Statement and note the interventions that have been made thus far.
I wish to express a special welcome to the Honorable Tony de Brum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, I welcome the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, and the Vice-President and Network Head for Sustainable Development at the World Bank Ms. Rachel Kyte. I also wish to welcome the contributions through video recordings by the President of Kiribati His Excellency Mr. Anote Tong and the Foreign Minister of Australia Senator Bob Carr.
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
We note the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in organizing this Meeting which we note is being convened under the informal Arria Formula of the United Nations Security Council on the subject “Security Dimensions of Climate Change”
The Group of 77 and China reiterates its position that the United Nations Security Council is not the appropriate forum for this discussion. The Group will repeat that the primary responsibility of the United Nations Security Council is the maintenance of international peace and security, as set out in the Charter of the United Nations.
On the other hand, other issues, including those related to economic and social development, are assigned by that same Charter to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and to the United Nations General Assembly (General Assembly).
The ever-increasing encroachment by the Security Council on the roles and responsibilities of other principal organs of the United Nations represents a distortion of the principles and purposes of the Charter, infringes on their authority and compromises the rights of the general membership of the United Nations.
The Group of 77 and China underlines the importance of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the ECOSOC to work within their respective mandates as set out in the Charter.
General Assembly resolution 63/281 recognized the respective responsibilities of the principal organs of the United Nations, including the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security conferred upon the Security Council and the responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and invited the relevant organs of the United Nations, as appropriate and within their respective mandates, to intensify their efforts in considering and addressing climate change, including its possible security implications.
The relevant bodies in the field of sustainable development are the General Assembly, the ECOSOC and their relevant subsidiary bodies, including the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Group of 77 and China is of the view that it is vital for all Member States to promote sustainable development in accordance with the Rio Principles, in particular, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and fully implement Agenda 21 and Outcomes of other relevant United Nations Conferences in the economic, environmental and social fields, including the Millennium Development Goals Declaration.
We further emphasize the critical role of the international community in the provision of adequate, predictable, new and additional financial resources, transfer of technology and capacity building to developing countries.
We maintain that the UNFCCC is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. In this sense, we recall that an appropriate response to this challenge should address not only the consequences but mainly the roots of the problem. At the DOHA COP 18, we made progress towards addressing Climate Change through concrete decisions on remaining work under the Bali Action Plan, a Plan of work under the Durban Platform and a Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol with a clear time line. The Second Commitment Period of Kyoto Protocol, however, lacks ambition and we hope that its level will be enhanced in 2014 as agreed in Doha
Let me emphasize that there is a strong case for developed countries’ emission reductions and mitigation actions to avoid adverse impacts of climate change. In this context, we are extremely concerned that current mitigation pledges from developed countries parties in the UNFCCC negotiations are not at all adequate to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature according to what is required by science.
We reiterate the need to coordinate international efforts and mobilize partners to assist the observation networks through regional initiatives such as South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring, and Caribbean Community Climate Change Center. In this regard, we call upon the relevant agencies and organs of the UN, including OCHA, to reinforce regional broadcastings systems to help island communities during disasters and increase the effectiveness of observation in these regions. Any measures taken in this context need to ensure an integrated approach in responding to environmental emergencies
The response to impacts of climate change and disasters must include the strengthening of the Hyogo Framework for Action for disaster risk reduction, the increasing of assistance to developing countries affected states, including by supporting efforts towards enhancing their national and regional capacities for implementation of plans and strategies for preparedness, rapid response, recovery and development.
The Group would like to underline the fact that developing countries continue to suffer from the adverse impacts of climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change, and support for their efforts needs to be stepped up.
In this regard, we call for the full and effective implementation of the commitments under the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, the Mauritius Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. We reiterate that sea-level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change continue to pose a significant risk to small island developing states and their efforts to achieve sustainable development and, for many, represent the gravest of threats to their survival and viability including for some through the loss of territory.
The Group of 77 and China will continue to pursue the achievement of sustainable development and eradication of poverty, which are our first and overriding priorities, as well as the fulfillment of commitments by developed countries in all relevant bodies.
We strongly reiterate our expectation that the initiative of the Council to hold this debate does not create a precedent that undermines the authority or mandate of the relevant bodies, processes and instruments that already address these issues in all their complexities.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China by Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations and Chairman of the Group of 77, at the first round of informal consulations for the preparatory process of the 2013 special event to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millenium Development Goals (New York, 15 February 2013).
Thank you, Distinguished Co-Facilitators.
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
At the outset, may I express the Group’s congratulations on your appointment as Co-Facilitators on this very important item. I would also like to convey our appreciation for the dispatch of your Informal Food for Thought Paper which you intend to guide our reflections on the modalities and substance of the Special Event and, in particular, underlines the urgency of moving to an early decision on the modalities of the Event.
The Group of 77 notes that the Special Event is not a formal event of the General Assembly but an ad hoc meeting convened on a specific theme, that is, “To follow up on efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” This process follows on from the request we made as Members States of the United Nations back in 2010 and it is a review of the efforts undertaken to date towards the achievement of the MDGs.
The Group is of the view that the Outcome of this Special Event must feed into an intergovernmental process for the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. Notwithstanding the link between the review of the MDGs and the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda, the review that this Special Event will undertake must not be subservient to or dependent on other processes under way for the post-2015 agenda.
It is of fundamental importance that the Special Event produces concise and actionable outcomes which will sharpen the focus on achieving the MDGs. This must include means to prioritize funding for MDGs, particularly in line with international agreements on development financing.
Given the importance, complexity and time-sensitivity of the issues that the Special Event must address, the Group welcomes the holding of this event during the High-level segment of the 68th UN General Assembly. However, the Group is concerned that a one-day meeting may not achieve the kind of concrete results that is needed for this final push on MDGs within the MDG period. The Group would therefore like further consideration of the time allotted for this Special Event.
These are our initial thoughts. We will revert with more substantial input during the course of our consultations under your able facilitation. The Group assures you of its continued support and constructive engagement in the preparations and conduct of this Special Event.
I thank you Co-Facilitators.
“Where were they? Why didn’t the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community was sure would come?”
Congress Must Take Bold Action on Climate Change
By Bernie Sanders, Guardian UK
16 February 13
nless we take bold action to reverse climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: Where were they? Why didn’t the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community was sure would come?
The issue that we are dealing with is not political. It has nothing to do with the squabbling we see in Washington every day. It has everything to do with physics. The leading scientists in the world who study climate change now tell us that their earlier projections were wrong. The crisis facing our planet is much worse than they had thought only a few years ago. Twelve out of the last 15 years ranked as the warmest on record in the United States. Now, scientists say that our planet could be 8F warmer or more by the end of this century if we take no decisive action to transform our energy system and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
What would that mean to planet earth? Sea levels would rise by three to six feet, which would flood cities like New Orleans, Boston and Miami and coastal communities all over the world. It would mean that every year we would see more and more extreme weather disturbances, like Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year and resulting in devastating blows to our economy and productive capabilities.
We would see the price of food go up because crops in the US and around the world would be affected by temperatures substantially greater than what we have today. It would mean greater threats of war and international instability because hungry and thirsty people would be fighting for limited resources. It would mean more disease and unnecessary deaths.
Legislation that I introduced(pdf) with the support of leading environmental organizations in the country can actually address the crisis and do what has to be done to protect the planet. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, chairman of the Senate environment and public works committee, co-sponsored the bill that would reverse greenhouse gas emissions in a significant way. It also would help create millions of jobs as we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and such sustainably energies as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.
A major focus of this legislation is a price on carbon and methane emissions. This fee on the largest fossil-fuel polluters affects fewer than 3,000 entities nationwide but covers 85% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US, according to the Congressional Research Service. The legislation ends fossil fuel subsidies. It also protects communities by requiring that drillers engaged in a new technology called fracking must comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and disclose chemicals they use.
To help consumers, 60% of the carbon fee revenue will be rebated to every US resident. To level the playing field for US manufacturers and create incentives for international cooperation, there would be a border fee on imported fuels and products unless the nation they were shipped from had a similar carbon price.
To transform our energy system, the legislation would make the boldest ever investment in energy efficiency and sustainable energy. That includes weatherizing 1m homes a year, as President Obama has advocated. It also means tripling the budget for advanced research and investing hundreds of billions through incentives and a public-private Sustainable Technologies Fund focusing on energy efficiency and clean transportation technology, as well as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass alternatives.
In our bill, we also provide funds to train workers for jobs in the sustainable energy economy and to help communities become resilient in the face of extreme weather. We accomplish all of this while paying down the debt by roughly $300bn over 10 years.
With President Obama’s commitment in the state of the union address to reverse global warming, we have the opportunity now to make progress. The president must use his executive authority to cut down on power plant pollution and reject the dangerous Keystone XL project. But he must not give up on a comprehensive legislative solution, and neither should we.
We will never fully deal with this crisis until Congress passes strong legislation. Senator Boxer and I are going to fight as hard as we can to do that, and we will work to rally support from American families all across this country that care deeply about their children and grandchildren’s future, and want to protect them from this planetary crisis.
With the UNFCCC located in Bonn, Germany thinks it ought to remain the key forum for addressing climate change. However, UNGA resolution 63/281, says all relevant UN organs, including the Security Council, need be part of efforts to combat climate change, including its possible security implications.
Statement by Ambassador Berger of Germany in the “Arria Formula” informal meeting of the Security Council.
Feb 15, 2013
Statement as prepared for delivery by Ambassador Berger in the “Arria Formula” informal meeting of the Security Council
“Honourable Minister, Excellencies, dear colleagues,
At the outset, I would like to thank Pakistan and the United Kingdom for initiating this debate. 18 months ago, in July 2011, the Security Council discussed the security implications of climate change in a formal meeting at the initiative of Germany. This resulted in a presidential statement expressing the Council’s concern about the possible adverse effects of climate change on international peace and security. We are happy to see the Council again taking up this important issue in today´s informal meeting.
Let me join previous speakers in thanking the keynote speakers for their valuable thoughts and the Secretary-General for his presence in this debate.
Germany aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union.
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Prof. Schellnhuber eloquently presented the alarming findings of recent climate research: It is not just facts, it is threats – be it to food and water security in Pakistan, to social stability in the Sahel, to the inhabitants and infrastructure of coastal cities or to the very existence of some small island states.
With the current trends of CO2 emissions, climate change will continue and lead us into a 4 degrees scenario with devastating consequences – with a high risk to economic growth and a grave threat to peace and security.
Therefore, each UN member state should take responsibility for climate and human security and become engaged at national and international level.
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to emphasize 3 points:
1. Avoiding dangerous global warming by taking action to curb emissions is the best way to address the obvious security implications of climate change. The international community has committed itself to adopting a climate protection protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome by 2015 with legal force for Parties. Let me stress: We must take action today to avoid the worst effects of climate change happening to our children and grandchildren – but also in our lifetime. More than ever, climate diplomacy is one of the key challenges for foreign policy in the 21st century. It should be a priority for all UN member states.
2. The UN has a pivotal role to play. The UNFCCC remains the key forum for addressing climate change. However, in accordance with UNGA resolution 63/281, all relevant UN organs, including the Security Council, need to intensify their efforts to combat climate change, including its possible security implications. In this context, the request to the SG to ensure that his reports to the Security Council contain contextual information on the possible security implications of climate change remains important.
We should also consider whether a UN Special Envoy on Climate and Security could help us to tackle the foreign and security policy implications of climate change.
3. In Rio, our Heads of State and Government agreed on a vision for the future we want. In New York, we are now embarking on a number of processes in which we will work out the details. Let us not forget: Climate change and its security implications will shape tomorrow’s world in a way that is almost impossible to overestimate. This is why the transformation of our economies into low-carbon economies is so important. This is why we cannot and must not continue to fuel our economies with fossil resources. This is why it is time now to move towards a green economy and truly sustainable development, in order to create the future we want – and to avoid a future we should all fear.
I thank you.”
Preparations for the UN Security Council “Arria Formula” Non-Meeting of Friday, February 15, 2013, on Climate Change. With the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change bogged down in inaction it seems that the Security Council is most appropriate place if you agree that the issue is indisputably real.
posted on THU 14 FEB 2013 4:47 PM
Tomorrow morning (15 February) Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant (UK) and Ambassador Masood Khan (Pakistan) will co-chair an Arria formula meeting on the “Security Dimensions of Climate Change”. It seems that the aim of the debate is to have an interactive and frank session on how climate change can negatively impact the maintenance of international peace and security and to highlight the security implications of intensified climate change. The co-chairs are hoping that the discussion will also touch on possible steps that could be taken to move from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to make remarks at the start of the meeting.
This will be followed by presentations from a panel of speakers that includes the Honorable Mr. Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands;
Professor Hans Schellnhuber, Head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research;
Ms. Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice-President for Sustainable Development;
and Mr. Gyan Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states.
Following these presentations, Security Council members, other member states and civil society participants are also expected to make their interventions.
A concept paper was circulated earlier this month to help guide the discussion. It outlines some of the security challenges and highlights key issues that could be taken up during the meeting. For example, it notes that climate change can worsen threats created by poverty and poor management of resources. It also points out that climate change could eventually make citizens residing in low lying small island states “stateless”, thus raising a number of legal issues. Finally, the paper asks if there are ways to enhance cooperation to manage shared water resources more effectively given growing water scarcity, and whether current mechanisms to curtail competition over natural resources can be strengthened.
The Council has held two previous debates on the security implications of climate change. The first was held in April 2007 (S/PV.5663), under the UK presidency, and considered the relationship between energy, security and climate. At the time a number of Council members had reservations about holding the debate on the grounds that it was unclear whether or not climate change could usefully be addressed within the Council’s mandate and there was no attempt to have a formal outcome.
The second debate (S/PV.6587), held in July 2011 under the German presidency, was on the impact of climate change on peace and security. Although negotiations were difficult Council members were able to agree on a presidential statement (S//PRST/2011/15) which highlighted that rising sea-levels may carry security implications for low-lying island states. The presidential statement also requested the Secretary-General to ensure that his reports to the Council on peace and security matters contain contextual information on possible security implications of climate change.
Including climate change on its agenda has been quite a contentious issue for the Council.
There are still some members who are less comfortable with the Council making decisions on an issue that they are not convinced is an explicit threat to peace and security.
An Arria formula meeting perhaps provides an opportunity to pursue this issue in an informal format that allows Council members to hear the views of a diverse and informed group with a stake in the issue. Among the permanent members, France, the UK, and the US have argued that the Council is an appropriate forum to discuss threats to international peace and security related to climate change. In effect, they see the Council’s efforts to address climate change as a part of its conflict prevention efforts.
However, China and Russia have a different position, having argued that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is the appropriate venue within the UN system for deliberations on this issue.
Of the new Council members, Australia and Luxembourg in particular have shown concern about the security threats posed by climate change and believe that it is an issue that the Council should address.
BLOOMBERG NEWS is first Large Media Network to report on the Arias method meeting at the UN Security Council, with closed doors to the Press but open door to UN Member States in general, today, Friday, February 15, 2013, which we had on our website for a while, and the previous link we got was from Matthew Lee of the Correspondents for Free Access to UN news.
Also, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, after his speech at the Council on Foreign Relations this past Monday, and his two days in Washington DC – Wednesday and Thursday, will participate at the UNSC meeting today. We hope that through his presentation the subject will become available to the public at large – that is, if the UN Department of Public Information will deem it important enough to sponsor it to the Press in general. So far we got this through UN Wire of the UN Foundation.
Climate Change’s Links to Conflict Draws UN Attention.
By Flavia Krause-Jackson – Feb 14, 2013 10:30 PM ET
Imagine India in 2033. It has overtaken China as the most populous nation. Yet with 1.5 billion citizens to feed, it’s been three years since the last monsoon. Without rain, crops die and people starve. The seeds of conflict take root.
This is one of the scenarios Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, will present today to members of the United Nations Security Council in New York to show the connection between climate change and global security challenges.
Either rich nations will find a way to supply needy nations suffering from damaging climate effects “or you will have all kinds of unrest and revolutions, with the export of angry and hungry people to the industrialized countries,” Schellnhuber said in an interview.
Climate change is a “reality that cannot be washed away,” according to notes prepared for diplomats at today’s session. “There is growing concern that with faster than anticipated acceleration, climate change may spawn consequences which are harsher than expected.”
The Security Council session is evidence of the increased focus on the link between climate change and global security.
Yet, today’s discussions will not be held as a formal meeting of the council because China and Russia, two of the larger emitters of the greenhouse gases that scientists tie to climate change, raised objections, said two UN diplomats who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the subject. China was the largest gross emitter of carbon dioxide in 2011, followed by the U.S., the European Union, India and Russia, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.
Informal Talks AT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL – the ARIAS information gathering method:
Instead, the informal, closed-door discussions will be held away from the council chamber and led jointly by the U.K. and Pakistan, where floods have left millions of people homeless in a foreshadowing of the extreme weather scientists say will result from a warming planet.
“Before it was always an issue of the developed world, so the involvement of Pakistan is a very interesting sign,” said Schellnhuber, a climate change scientist who is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top adviser on the issue.
Representatives from nations not on the 15-member Security Council are invited to the session, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to participate. In 2011, the council agreed to a statement expressing “concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.”
“It was OK, but it was rather vague,” said Schellnhuber.
With 2012 the world’s hottest year on record, the implications for both domestic and foreign policy of wildfires in Australia and Russia, floods in Asia and hurricanes in the Americas give today’s discussion an added sense of urgency.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it’s a topic that has moved higher on the list of U.S. domestic issues. President Barack Obama presented climate change as a priority for his second term during his Feb. 12 State of the Union address.
“Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense,” Obama said in his speech. “We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.”
U.S. intelligence agencies said in a December report that climate change coupled with water shortages will alter global patterns of arable land, while greater demand for energy may curb the amount of raw materials available to make fertilizers.
Climate change will complicate resource management, particularly in Asia where monsoons are crucial to the growing season, according to the 140-page Global Trends 2030 report, produced by the U.S. intelligence community. It will worsen the outlook for availability of critical resources of food, water and energy, the report said.
Rising global temperatures may provoke conflict between the European Union and Russia as Arctic ice melts, easing access to fossil-fuel deposits in that area and opening new sea routes, Schellnhuber said.
The conflict in the Sudan’s western region of Darfur has generated headlines over the years as the first climate war because drought and the advancing desert stoked tensions.
“Many developing and fragile states — such as in Sub- Saharan Africa — face increasing strains from resource constraints and climate change, pitting different tribal and ethnic groups against one another,” according to the Global Trends report.
The millions of environmental refugees, such as those displaced by natural disasters and rising sea levels due to melting ice, will be one focus of the UN session, as will be the potential for conflicts.
The UN’s decision-making body will discuss the challenges from reduced water availability, a critical issue in the Middle East and Africa, and also explore the implications of glacial melting.
Melting ice caps has led to a push to strengthen the Law of the Sea, an accord granting countries bordering the Arctic rights to economic zones within 200 miles (322 kilometers) of their shores. Russia, for example, has staked a claim to a North Pole seabed worth billions of dollars in oil and natural gas.
“The impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rises, drought, flooding and extreme weather events, can exacerbate underlying tensions and conflict in part of the world already suffering from resource pressures,” according to the U.K.- Pakistan notes.
– With assistance from Alex Morales in London. Editors: Terry Atlas, Michael Shepard
To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in United Nations at email@example.com
UN’s Media Rules Are Archaic & Exclusionary, FUNCA’s 10 Reforms
FUNCA stands for – “ Free United Nations Coalition for Access – funca.info It is actively promoted at the UN by Inner City Press. www.InnerCityPress.com
By Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press
UNITED NATIONS, February 10 – The UN’s Media Access Guidelines and accreditation rules are an embarrassing anachronism, like UN Correspondents Association which is a party to them.
Why does the UN limit accreditation to representatives of corporations “formally registered as a media organization in a country recognized by the UN General Assembly”?
As Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman on February 5, does this exclusion apply to journalists from South Ossetia, “Abkhazia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [or] Palestine before 29 November”?
So far, the UN’s only answer is that it is the General Assembly which recognizes states. But what about the rights of journalists?
FUNCA followed up: isn’t it claimed that “the United Nations recognizes the rights of journalists wherever they come from? But in the accreditation guideline it is limited to journalists from certain territories and that’s what [we are] trying to explore, whether that is consistent with what UNESCO said, article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on free press.”
So far, no answer from the UN. We also ask: how did UNCA, the UN’s “partner” as it points out back to the time of the League of Nations, not press to change this?
Or are members of the UNCA Executive Committee in agreement with the exclusion by politics and geography, just as they tried to expel the investigative Press in 2012?
Here now are FUNCA’s Top Ten Reforms required of the UN’s Media Access Guidelines and accreditation rules, an ongoing effort by a number of FUNCA members:
1. The Preamble to the UN Media Access Guidelines requiring accredited journalists to abide by “the principles of the Organization” and “established journalism ethics and standards” is impossibly vague, since every day we see nations and individuals interpreting those principles and ethics in widely different ways.
This vagueness gives the UN unfettered discretion to exclude journalists with no due process or explanation.
2. The process by which the UN may expel or process complaints against a journalist is never clearly defined in either the UN Accreditation Rules or Media Access Guidelines, despite a 2012 request by the New York Civil Liberties Union after several UNCA members tried to get the investigative Press expelled.
3. Bizarrely, the UN Media Access Guidelines at “2. Security Council (d)” state that “on the record questions should be addressed to the Council Members in front of the stakeout microphone.” This is obviously impractical and not the current practice. To be clear, it is not the role of the UN or their partner organizations to tell journalists and diplomats how, where, and on what basis, to exchange information.
4. The UN Media Access Guidelines are described as an “agreement between DPI, DSS, OSSG, OPGA, and UNCA. It is clearly improper to include UNCA as a partner on media guidelines, since UNCA has repeatedly sought to expel journalists with no due process at all.
5. The UN Media Access Guidelines state that “all correspondents are permitted access to open meetings in designated areas within the conference rooms.” This has not been complied with. Most recently, journalists were banned from Ban’s speech to the General Assembly, although this was listed as an open meeting.
It should be (made) clear that webcasting of a meeting does not replace the right to be physically present, especially since from at least December 2012 to the launch of this list of reformed in February 2013, the UN live webcast does not work on the Android platform.
6. The UN Media Access Guidelines on Photo-Ops must be updated with what DPI committed to FUNCA on January 27 and again on February 5, 2013: that there will be no more restrictions on which media can go to photo ops, and no “pool” by UNCA as took place in the North Lawn Building in 2012. Since many of the current Media Access Guidelines refer to this Temporary North Lawn Building, they need to be revised before April 2013 — with these reforms included, and UNCA no longer a party to rules to throw other journalists out.
Likewise, the existing rules say that all correspondents may have access to the Delegates’ Lounge. This must continue to be the case, despite the current UNCA leadership now trying to limit access to Resident Correspondents.
7. The UN Accreditation Rules give automatic access to independent broadcasters and film production companies with “a UN partner organization that supports the production.” This amounts to favoritism for productions that portray the UN positively. Productions without a UN partner face higher hurdles to get admission. This is, then, yet another content-based standard.
8. The UN Accreditation Rules state, as to online media, that “the website must have at least 60% original news content or commentary or analysis.” Since the UN used this to dis-accredit a journalist who has now joined FUNCA, it is time for replacement with a standard for minimum original content, not a percentage given that website will often paste in the UN material they are analyzing or criticizing. One might also ask of the wire services’ re-typing of statements attributable to the spokesperson of the Secretary General constitutes “original” material in any common sense meaning of the word.
9. The UN Accreditation Rules’ repeated statement that non-profits are not eligible for accreditation is outdated and not enforced. AP and NPR are non-profits but are accredited; more recently a model of non-profit newsrooms, from ProPublica to some accredited at the UN, make it time to remove this archaic and arbitrary restriction.
10. The UN Accreditation Rules under “(1) Note on bona fide media organization” say that all those applying for accreditation must belong to an organization which is “formally registered as a media organization in a country recognized by the United Nations General Assembly.” This excludes individual journalists from all territories and non-member states. This is a real and ongoing problem which has barred many journalists from the UN, even including American reporters working for media physically headquartered in such territories or non-member states.
These FUNCA proposals are being presented, to the head of the UN Department of Public Information and elsewhere.
Jul 20, 2011 … Implications of Climate Change Important When Climate Impacts Drive … In a statement read out by Council President for July, Peter Wittig of Germany, the 15-member …. The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2011/15 reads as ….
www.genf.diplo.de/…/2013-01-03-DEUImSicherheitsratRueckbl-en.html – Cached
Jan 3, 2013 … Germany’s term as a non?permanent member of the UN Security Council … of
www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/…/20-SecurityCouncil.html – Cached
Dec 20, 2012 … Looking Back on Germany’s Term in the UN Security Council … of Presidential
“The Security Council expresses its concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.” The wording of the Presidential Statement agreed by the Security Council during its session on climate change on 20 July truly is less clear than simply calling climate change a “threat multiplier” – an expression used by many analysts and decision makers in the context. The meaning, however, may go beyond the debates that have taken place in academia and among policy makers so far. As Peter Wittig, Germany’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), commented on the outcome: “This is a good day today for climate security.” This may be true for a couple of reasons.
First, the debate in the Security Council encouraged an unusually high number of interventions by member states indicating the deep concern of many representatives – even of those against discussing the issue in the Security Council for fear of overloading the Council’s agenda.
Second, after a lively debate with seemingly unbridgeable differences between proponents and opponents of addressing climate change in this Council setting, a consensus was finally achieved. In other words, the major emitters of greenhouses gases around the world agreed that these emissions may partly be responsible for further exacerbating instability and conflict. Surprisingly, Ambassador Susan Rice of the U.S. joined the proponents by framing opposition to an agreement on the threat of climate change to peace and security during the debate as “pathetic”, “short-sighted” and “a dereliction of duty”. China and Russia, with substantial resistance before, but also Brazil and India finally joined a compromise – all of them emphasizing the outstanding role of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the key arena to address climate change. It probably will be useful to remind all these countries of highlighting the outstanding role of UNFCCC at the UN climate change conference in Durban later this year.
Third, in the Presidential Statement, the Secretary-General is asked to provide conflict analysis and so-called ‘contextual information’ when climate change trends are endangering the process of consolidating peace. In this case, the mandate of the Security Council most obviously is at risk. It will be interesting to see how the required conflict analysis will be provided. However, regular peace and conflict assessments of climate change impacts can be a crucial step towards mainstreaming climate change in the field of foreign and security policy and contribute to strengthening crisis and conflict prevention. (Dennis Taenzler)
For the Presidential Statement, please see
To find more information on the debate, please see www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10332.doc.htm
The Press Release by UN DPI follows:
20 July 2011
6587th Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council, in Statement, Says ‘Contextual Information’ on Possible Security Implications of Climate Change Important When Climate Impacts Drive Conflict.
‘Make No Mistake’, Says Secretary-General, ‘Climate Change Not Only Exacerbates
Threats to Peace and Security, It Is a Threat to International Peace and Security’
The Security Council this afternoon expressed concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change could, in the long-run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security and that the loss of territory in some States due to sea-level rise, particularly in small low-lying island States, could have possible security implications.
In a statement read out by Council President for July, Peter Wittig of Germany, the 15-member body, following a day-long debate on “maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change”, noted that “conflict analysis and contextual information” on, among others, the “possible security implications of climate change” was important when climate issues drove conflict, challenged implementation of Council mandates or endangered peace processes.
In that context, the 15-member body asked the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contained such contextual information. Moreover, the Council recognized the responsibility for climate change and other sustainable development issues conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and it underlined the Assembly’s 2009 resolution that reaffirmed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the key instrument for addressing climate change.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who opened the Council debate, pointed to the devastating impact of extreme weather and rising seas on lives, infrastructure and budgets — an “unholy brew” that could create dangerous security vacuums. “We must make no mistake,” he said. “The facts are clear: climate change is real and accelerating in a dangerous manner,” he said, declaring that it “not only exacerbates threats to international peace and security; it is a threat to international peace and security”.
Events in Pakistan, the Pacific islands, Western Europe, China and the Horn of Africa, among other areas, illustrated the urgency of the situation, he said, adding that just today, the United Nations had declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people were in danger of food and water shortages. Environmental refugees were “reshaping the human geography” of the planet.
He called for ambitious steps to reduce climate change and make “sustainable development for all” the defining issue of our time. That meant, among other things, expediting implementation of the agreements made during the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, including on forest protection, adaptation and technology; providing “fast start” financing and agreement on sources of long-term funding; and setting ambitious targets to ensure that any increase in the global average temperature remained below 2° C.
Climate change was a “threat multiplier”, asserted Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and that, he said, would have fundamental implications for weather, settlements, infrastructure, food insecurity, livelihoods and development. Competition over scarce water and land, exacerbated by regional changes in climate, was already a key factor in local conflicts in Darfur, the Central African Republic, northern Kenya and Chad.
As many as 10 Council-mandated peacekeeping operations costing $35 billion — half of the global peacekeeping budget — had been deployed to countries where natural resources had played a key role in conflict, he said. Science showed that the quantity and quality of those resources would be at increasing risk from climate change and that broad, cooperative action was needed to prevent irreversible tipping points, leading to sudden, abrupt shocks to communities and countries.
“Indeed there is no reason why the international community cannot avoid escalating conflicts, tensions and insecurity related to a changing climate if a deliberate, focused and collective response can be catalysed that tackles the root causes, scale, potential volatility and velocity of the challenges emerging,” he said, citing recent efforts towards that end.
Speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, the Maldives, Seychelles and Timor-Leste, Marcus Stephen, President of Nauru, said the very survival of many countries was threatened by the adverse impacts of climate change. Some islands could disappear altogether, forcing large numbers of peoples to relocate — first internally and then across borders. While Council members understood such security challenges, solidarity demanded more than sympathetic words. “Demonstrate it by formally recognizing that climate change is a threat to international peace and security,” he said, calling climate change as great a threat as nuclear proliferation or terrorism.
The Council, he insisted, should start by requesting the appointment of a special representative on climate and security, as well as an assessment of the United Nations capacity to respond to the security impacts of the phenomenon. The Council would render itself irrelevant if it chose to ignore the biggest security threat of our time, he said, imploring it to “seize this opportunity to lead”.
Echoing those concerns was Richard Marles, Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, who said the sea, long a source of food, sustenance and comfort, was being transformed into a source of anxiety and threat. Sea-level rise could reach one metre by the end of the century, resulting in more severe storm surges, coastal inundation and loss of territory. Islands and low-lying territories might become inhabitable, and as much of 80 per cent of the Marshall Islands’ Majuro Atoll, the nation’s capital, could erode and be lost.
During the debate, in which some 65 speakers took the floor, delegates gave opposing views over whether the Council should consider climate change or leave it to other United Nations organs traditionally charged with sustainable development matters, notably UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Some representatives applauded the Council’s emerging role as a necessary complement. But others saw it as an encroachment, and said the Council members could better contribute by making good on their international development commitments, promoting the green economy and ensuring a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol with measurable and more ambitious goals on emissions reduction.
Bolivia’s representative went a step further, calling for creation of an international tribunal for climate and environmental justice to sanction those nations that did not comply with emission reduction commitments. He also proposed a Council resolution to cut global defence and security spending by 20 per cent and channel the subsequent savings into steps to tackle climate change.
Also speaking in today’s debate were the representatives of the United States, Brazil, China, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Colombia, France, Lebanon, South Africa, Gabon, India, Portugal, Germany, Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Argentina (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), El Salvador, Slovenia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Chile, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Ecuador, Cuba, Honduras, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Iceland, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Iran, Kuwait (on behalf of the Arab States Group), Kazakhstan, Belgium, Peru, Bangladesh, Palau, Hungary, Finland, Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Turkey, Philippines, Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Venezuela, Fiji, Poland, United Republic of Tanzania, Israel, Spain, Italy and Pakistan.
The Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and suspended at 1:10 p.m. It resumed at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 7:14 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2011/15 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council stresses the importance of establishing strategies of conflict prevention.
“The Security Council recognizes the responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
“The Security Council underlines General Assembly resolution 63/281 of 3 June 2009, which: reaffirms that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the key instrument for addressing climate change; recalls the provisions of the UNFCCC, including the acknowledgement that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions; and invites the relevant organs of the United Nations, as appropriate and within their respective mandates to intensify their efforts in considering and addressing climate change, including its possible security implications.
“The Security Council notes General Assembly resolution 65/159 of 20 December 2010, entitled ‘Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind’.
“The Security Council notes that, in response to the request contained in General Assembly resolution 63/281, the Secretary General submitted a report to the General Assembly on ‘Climate change and its possible security implications’ (A/64/350).
“The Security Council expresses its concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.
“The Security Council expresses its concern thatpossible security implications of loss of territory of some States caused by sea-level rise may arise, in particular in small low-lying island States.
“The Security Council notes that in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security under its consideration, conflict analysis and contextual information on, inter alia, possible security implications of climate change is important, when such issues are drivers of conflict, represent a challenge to the implementation of Council mandates or endanger the process of consolidation of peace. In this regard, the Council requests the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contains such contextual information.”
The Security Council met this morning to hold an open thematic debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change”. To frame the discussion, the Permanent Representative of Germany, whose country holds the Council presidency for July, prepared a concept note (document S/2011/408), which states: “It is time to bring the security implications of climate change to the attention of the Council again.”
The Council first debated the link between energy, security and climate in April 2007, the note recalls. Debate on this topic is consistent with the Council’s mandate to maintain international peace and security, and would be an opportunity to advance the intense dialogue on the issue from its specific security perspective, it says. Moreover, since that first debate, in which more than 50 Member States participated, the global political and scientific discourse has evolved significantly, and awareness of the potential security implications of climate change has increased.
The note finds that the changing climate — one of the key challenges facing the international community — is occurring at a time when the planet is under pressure from a raft of other challenges, such as rapid population growth, increased demand for natural resources and depletion of fertile soils and unspoiled waters. “The impacts could potentially drive social tensions, political unrest and violent conflict”, and thus, the effects of climate change go beyond the mandate of the United Nations Framework Convention, the main intergovernmental instrument dealing with that phenomenon.
The potential security implications of climate change were highlighted, according to the note, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the General Assembly, in its resolution 63/281, invited the relevant organs of the United Nations to intensify efforts in considering and addressing climate change, including its possible security implications, and requested the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report to the Assembly on the possible security implications of climate change.
Drawing upon the best available science at the time and the views of Member States and international organizations, the Secretary-General, in his 2009 report (document A/64/350), clearly outlined the link between the risk multiplier effects of climate change and security, including with respect to armed conflict, the note recalls. For its part, the Security Council has increasingly acknowledged that sustainable peace requires a comprehensive approach to security.
The note goes on to say that only recently, the Council stated that in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security under its consideration, conflict analysis and contextual information on, inter alia, social and economic issues were important, when such issues were drivers of conflict, and requested the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contained such contextual information (document S/PRST/2011/4).
The paper before the Council today highlights the security implications of sea-level rise and emphasizes that while complete inundation may take years and the rise in the sea level may vary in different regions, this is not only a future risk, but a current reality; on some islands, the situation is already dire enough to require the evacuation of the resident population now. Furthermore, even before rising tides actually submerge an island, their impact may render it uninhabitable, requiring permanent resettlement.
“This raises profound questions regarding the very survival of several Member States,” the note continues, and adds that receding coastlines could furthermore incite disputes over maritime territories and access to exclusive economic zones. This is not limited to small island developing States, but affects all island nations and countries with low-lying coastal areas as well, thus affecting the majority of Member States. “These are threats that are so far unknown in the history of the United Nations”, and current legal and political arrangements and the Organization’s preparedness to deal with these situations may prove insufficient. “Millions of people will be affected on all continents.”
As for the security implications of food insecurity, the note says that climate change is likely to reduce food production globally, with large parts of Africa and Asia suffering particular negative impacts. Although some countries in northern latitudes may theoretically benefit from climate change in the short term, the wildfires and crop failures in Australia and the Russian Federation in recent years have shown that developed and developing countries alike can be negatively affected.
Following the recent food crisis, the note states, social protests and unrest occurred in a number of countries and cities around the world. Populations in post-conflict countries or those suffering from instability can rarely afford escalating global food prices following droughts and similar events; this challenge and the fact that they have access to only a few substitutes makes them even more vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Further, the note says that a number of fragile States are especially susceptible to increasing food prices owing to their dependence on food imports. In some countries on the Security Council’s agenda, including Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and the Sudan, nearly half or more of the labour force is employed in the agricultural sector. Major droughts, an increase in extreme weather events and a rising number of large-scale inundations causing a decrease in crop production may degrade the social-economic fabric of these and other countries, and may be detrimental to peacebuilding.
Thus, food insecurity caused by climate change and related developmental impacts make countries more fragile and vulnerable to conflict risks, and may create a threat to international peace and security. It is necessary to consider these issues in all efforts related to conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding and post-conflict stabilization.
Opening the Security Council’s thematic debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change”, Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON, recalled that when the Security Council first had taken up the issue of climate change in 2007, he had argued that the debate was not only appropriate but essential. Today, he welcomed that the right debate was being held: on what the Council and all States could do to confront the “double-barrelled challenge” of climate change and international security.
“We must make no mistake,” he said. The facts were clear: climate change was real and accelerating in a dangerous manner. “It not only exacerbates threats to international peace and security; it is a threat to international peace and security”, he stressed. Extreme weather events were growing more frequent and intense in rich and poor countries alike, devastating lives, infrastructure and budgets — an “unholy brew” that could create dangerous security vacuums.
Events in Pakistan, the Pacific Islands, the Russian Federation, Western Europe, the United States, China and the Horn of Africa were just some examples that should remind the world of the urgency of the situation, he said, adding that just today, the United Nations had declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people were in danger of going short of food and water, undermining the most essential foundations of local, national, and global stability.
Competition between communities and countries for scarce resources — especially water — was increasing, he said, exacerbating old security dilemmas and creating new ones, while environmental refugees were “reshaping the human geography” of the planet, a trend that would only increase as deserts advanced, forests were felled, and sea-levels rose.
Since his report to the General Assembly in 2009, certain agreements had been reached in Copenhagen and Cancún in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), he said, providing an important — albeit incomplete — foundation for action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enabling all countries to adapt. What was needed now was accelerated operationalization of the agreements made at Cancún, including on forest protection, adaptation and technology.
Moreover, climate finance, the sine qua non for progress, must move from a conceptual discussion to concrete delivery of “fast start” financing and agreement on sources of long-term financing, he said. The next Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Durban this December must be decisive in that regard.
“Minimalist steps will not do,” he stressed, as ambitious targets were needed to ensure that any increase in the global average temperature remained below 2 degrees Centigrade. The Durban meeting also must provide a clear step forward on mitigation commitments and actions by all parties, according to their responsibilities and capabilities. Developed countries must lead, while emerging economies must shoulder their fair share.
Given that the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expired next year, a political formula also must be found to ensure that existing and future commitments were not delayed by negotiating gamesmanship, he said, noting that the Council could play a vital role in making clear the link between climate change, peace and security. It bore a unique responsibility for mobilizing national and international action to confront the security threat of climate change, and others that derived from it.
Recalling that nothing would build a foundation for a more peaceful world than securing sustainable development, he urged all States to use next year’s “Rio+20” Conference on Sustainable Development to “join the dots” between energy security, food and nutrition security, water security, climate security and development.
While he had called climate change “the defining issue of our time”, he said States now must go further to make “sustainable development for all” the defining issue, as it was only in that broader framework that climate change could be addressed. “Re-writing this history falls to us all,” he concluded.
ACHIM STEINER, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), discussed climate change’s profound implications for global stability and security, noting that it was a threat multiplier that could result in simultaneous and unprecedented impacts on where people could settle, grow food, maintain infrastructure or rely on functioning ecosystems. Managing the potential disruption, displacement and adaptation to sea-level rise or extreme weather events was profoundly challenging to sustainable development. The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 concluded that it was “unequivocal” that the Earth was warming and that humans played a role in that. It noted that 11 of the last 12 years ranked among the 12 hottest years on record. The Panel’s fifth assessment report would be released in 2013-3014. But already many teams of scientists had claimed that forecasts and scenarios of future climate change cited in the fourth report had been overtaken.
Citing examples in the regard, he said that a one-meter rise in sea-level, along with storm surges, could flood 17 per cent of Bangladesh’s land area; threaten large parts of coastal cities such as Lagos, Cape Town and elsewhere; and overwhelm small island developing States from the Maldives to Tuvalu. The Copenhagen Diagnosis of 2009 identified the potential for a temperature rise by 2100 of as much as seven degrees Celsius if there was no action to cut emissions. A 2011 paper in Nature Climate Change had concluded that roughly 65 per cent of present maize-growing areas in Africa would experience yield losses for a one degree Celsius warming even under optimal rain-fed management.
The science suggested continuing, expediting and “tipping point” trends linked to climate change, which would have fundamental implications for weather, settlements, infrastructure, food insecurity, livelihoods and development, he said. It was happening in a world of rapidly emerging resource constraints and close to 7 billion people that would rise to more than 9 billion by 2050. “In a world where population is rapidly rising, the sustainable use of resources becomes an imperative,” he said, pointing to findings by UNEP’s International Resource Panel, which showed that consumption of several key natural resources could triple by 2050 to 140 billion tonnes unless that consumption was decoupled from economic growth.
That gave rise to security concerns, as evidenced by public protests in Argentina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Mauritania and Peru in 2008 where a range of factors had caused price spikes and food shortages, he said. Many experts argued that climate change would aggravate or amplify existing security concerns and give rise to new ones, particularly in already fragile and vulnerable nations. It could also sharply intensify human displacement, bringing communities into increasing competition for finite natural resources with global repercussions for global economic stability.
Last month, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimated that “sudden natural disasters” had displaced 42 million people in 2010, he said. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the IDMC had suggested that at least 36 million people were displaced in 2008 due to the “sudden onset” of natural disasters, including weather-related disasters.
Competition over scarce water and land, exacerbated by regional changes in climate, were already a key factor in local level conflicts in Darfur, the Central African Republic, northern Kenya and Chad. When livelihoods were threatened by declining natural resources, people fled or innovated, or could be brought into conflict, he said.
UNEP was partnering with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment to frame a response to climate change and food challenges with the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems Initiative hosted by Oxford University, he said. Earlier this month, the Environmental and Security Initiative, a partnership between several United Nations agencies and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), published a comprehensive assessment of the Amu Darya river basin in Central Asia and measures for improved cooperation between Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Countries in the Sahel, including Burkina Faso, Gambia and Mauritania, also recognized the security implications of climate change and natural resource conflicts in their national policies and adaptation plans, he said. Several developed and developing countries had also reflected those risks in their national security strategies and defence plans. Working towards a low-carbon economy, or green economy, would be a key focus of the Rio+20 Conference next year.
Ten Council-mandated peacekeeping operations costing $35 billion had been deployed to countries where natural resources had played a key role in conflict, he said. That figure represented half of the total peacekeeping budget ever spent. Science showed that the quantity and quality of those resources would be at increasing risk from climate change and its impact, and that without broad, cooperative action, irreversible tipping points could occur with perhaps sudden and abrupt shocks to communities and countries.
“The question is less and less of whether climate change is a security threat or a threat multiplier. But one of how we can assess and manage the risks associated with climate change and its security implications as an international community,” he said. The international community’s ability to manage climate change’s consequences and avoid its most dangerous possibilities would depend on a proactive strategy and new global platforms, mechanisms and institutional responses that anticipated security concerns and facilitated cooperative responses.
“Indeed there is no reason why the international community cannot avoid escalating conflicts, tensions and insecurity related to a changing climate if a deliberate, focused and collective response can be catalyzed that tackles the root causes, scale, potential volatility and velocity of the challenges emerging,” he said.
SUSAN RICE (United States) said climate change had very real implications for international peace and security. Those were as powerful as they were complex, and many of them were already upon us, reducing water and food, and threatening biodiversity in some regions. As more intense storms uprooted populations, climate change could increase pressure on scarce resources, exposing people to greater insecurity. Post-conflict countries already struggling to rebuild infrastructure and overcome instability now must often grapple with extreme weather and drought. Climate change also could slow or reverse crucial development gains for people to break the shackles of poverty. As sea levels rose, small island developing States might well see their territory literally drowned, raising unimagined forms of statelessness.
Recalling the recent birth of South Sudan as the newest Member State, she said agricultural production was among its highest priorities. Yet, that challenge had been magnified by the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the wider Horn of Africa. A decade ago, drought and desertification were thought to have contributed to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, as it had in Somalia. “The Security Council needs to start now — today and in the days to come — to act on the understanding that climate change exacerbated the risks of conflict,” she stressed, underlining the need to sharpen the tools available to respond to them.
She went on to say that while the Council had an essential responsibility to address the clear-cut international peace and security implications of climate change, this week it had been unable to reach consensus on a presidential statement that climate change had the potential to impact international peace and security — despite “manifest evidence” that it did. Dozens of countries whose very existence was threatened had asked the Council to recognize their security was being threatened. But because of the refusal of a few, the Council, by its silence, was saying “tough luck”. “This is more than disappointing. It’s pathetic,” she said. It was a dereliction of duty.
The Council had shown an impressive ability to combat new peace and security threats, she said, and in adapting peacekeeping tools to address more complex peace and security crises around the world. Climate change was no different. Improved early warning systems, more collaboration on the effects of climate change, especially at local and national levels, and more information on food and water were needed to help prevent resource-driven conflicts. The Council must prevent the risk of conflict by building local and national capacities. “Our goal is clear,” she stressed. “This Council needs to be prepared for the full range of crises that may be deepened or widened by climate change.” It must be much better prepared to tackle one of the central threats of our age.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the Council must take a holistic view of conflict, as violence was born not only of ethnic or religious disputes, but also out of hunger, poverty and competition for scarce resources. The links between climate change and development, and between security and development, had been explicitly recognized by the United Nations, but the possible security implications of climate change were far less obvious, as environmental impacts did not threaten international peace and security on their own. However, that indirect relationship between security and climate change in no way diminished the urgency of supporting the most vulnerable countries. Those challenges required political, economic and humanitarian approaches, not necessarily a security response.
Expressing solidarity with small island developing States, she agreed that expressions of concern or political declarations were no substitute for concrete action. Adaptation programmes must be prioritized and funded. On food security, she called for redoubling efforts to eliminate hunger, while political will was needed to improve market access to food products from developing countries by reducing agricultural subsidies. Where food insecurity aggravated instability in conflict or post-conflict situations, the Council should coordinate efforts with other actors, including the World Bank.
WANG MIN (China) said solving climate change and achieving sustainable development were pressing tasks that required all countries to make long-term efforts. Common but differentiated responsibilities were necessary. Climate change could affect security, but it was fundamentally a sustainable development issue. The Council did not have the means and resources to address it. Its discussions did not contribute to putting together a broadly accepted programme. Nor could the Council’s discussions substitute for the UNFCCC negotiations. Most developing countries believed the Council’s discussion on climate change did not contribute to mitigation efforts. The international community should give full consideration to developing countries’ stage of development and specific needs and circumstances, and accordingly, give them the requisite assistance. The international community should adopt effective measures to help small island developing States, especially by giving them capital, technology and capacity-building support. China would work with those small island nations to actively implement the Mauritius Strategy to advance sustainable development worldwide.
MIRSADA ?OLAKOVI? (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that in certain circumstances, the adverse impacts of climate change might aggravate existing threats to international peace and security, and the Council must be aware of the potential security implications that could be entailed, including humanitarian crises, migration pressures and external shocks. On the other hand, it was necessary to respect the mandates of United Nations bodies addressing climate change.
A coherent and holistic response by the United Nations was the only way to address the issue, he said, and the Secretary-General, when appropriate, should alert the Council on climate-related crises that could imperil peace and security. It was crucial that United Nations bodies strengthen their capacity to deal with different crises, including those stemming from climate change, with efforts focused on predicting, preventing or handling climate change issues. Mainstreaming climate change within the Organization’s relevant bodies should be strengthened and information-sharing improved on early warning assessments.
U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said today’s debate was timely and it could contribute to preparations for the 2012 Earth Summit. The food crisis in the Horn of Africa showed that threats to water management, animal health and crop production exacerbated food insecurity. It was necessary to take concerted action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, otherwise the risks would only increase. It would cost $3 billion to protect Nigeria from the sea-level rise that could occur, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Nigeria was working with bilateral and multilateral partners to identify solutions to those challenges and it sought to mainstream mitigation and adaptation strategies.
At the same time, she said, Nigeria was committed to the Millennium Development Goals and the Green Wall Sahara Programme. Every nation must do its part. She expressed concern over the slow rate of progress in implementing mitigation and adaptation agreements. Such failures had repercussions everywhere. Natural disasters undermined efforts of developing countries and small island developing States to adapt. The struggle to minimize climate change impacts should be part of wider peacebuilding frameworks. The United Nations was unequivocally placed to guide implementation of existing commitments outlined in the Kyoto Protocol, the Mauritius Declaration and other frameworks. She called for enhanced efforts for the equitable distribution of climate change adaptation funds and the promotion of the Global Environmental Facility.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said the number of countries speaking today demonstrated the importance of the topic being discussed. Extreme weather events would be felt most keenly in those countries where there was a shortage of food, water and energy, and where Governments did not always have the capacity to respond. Climate change must be seen as a “threat multiplier”, exacerbating tensions and increasing the likelihood of conflict. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had estimated that global demand for food would increase 70 per cent by 2050. Where food security was a source of instability, climate change had the potential to fuel tension.
He said that resource scarcity, flooding and drought would likely result in movements of people across national boundaries in such areas as the Horn of Africa, increasing the risks of tension and conflict. While some had voiced concern at the Council’s mandate to discuss the issue, the United Kingdom believed the mandates of those United Nations bodies dealing with climate change were being respected. The Council’s debate did not undermine them. The Council should consider emerging threats to international peace and security, and — as conflict prevention was an element in its work — it was through discussion of new and cross-cutting challenges, including climate change, that it could best prevent conflict.
Voicing hope that agreement could be reached on a presidential statement, which would send a signal on the importance of mitigating the security risks posed by climate change, he said history would not judge the Council kindly if it “ducked” that responsibility. Three areas required attention. First, the United Nations must continue to work to achieve a globally binding agreement on climate change, and the United Kingdom would do its all to support preparations for the seventeenth Conference of Parties in Durban. The Council must build a deeper understanding of the interface between climate change and conflict drivers, and then capture it by building tools and taking actions to prevent conflict. Finally, better information-sharing was needed among United Nations bodies and programmes.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his Government had always viewed combating climate change as a priority area for global cooperation, having advocated for a global instrument covering all countries and for more attention to be paid to the idea of Russian forests acting as carbon sinks. The Russian Federation’s policy had been seen in its decision to cut by 2020 greenhouse gas emissions by 10 to 25 per cent over 1990 levels, within the framework of a new global climate agreement. In the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Russian Federation would give attention to nuclear energy.
The priority role in combating climate change lay with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, he explained, as it contained measures to respond to new threats. The Russian Federation shared the concerns of small island developing States at rising sea levels. To address climate change, States must effectively use the potential of the climate convention, the most fundamental area of which was adaptation, which included the Adaptation Fund. He called for urgent and targeted aid in that regard.
His Government was sceptical about the repeated attempts to place climate change on the Council’s agenda, he said, noting that as a compromise, his Government had agreed to join consensus in the adoption of General Assembly resolution 63/281 (2009). The Council’s consideration of the climate change issue was not right, as many countries were not prepared to see climate change placed on its agenda. Additionally, the Secretary-General’s report did not contain “serious arguments” to support those advocating its placement on the Council’s agenda. Rather, it merely discussed the hypothetical nature of climate change. While there also was a lack of empirical data to establish correlations, the report did contain “balanced” conclusions and observations on further work in that area. The Security Council was not referred to once in the report, and involving the Council in a regular review of climate change would not be of any added value; it would merely lead to more politicization of the issue and disagreement among countries.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said immediate challenges caused by climate change must be discussed by the Council. While responses to minimize the effects of climate change were not within the Council’s mandate, the Council had been called upon to play a role in conflict cases that were exacerbated by climate change’s impact, in order to provide humanitarian protection measures, which should not extend to other issues. The Council would be called upon to raise the visibility of the problem under the consolidation of trust among nations, based on respect for the mandates of the respective bodies of the international system, and based on a unifying spirit. Curbing greenhouse gas emissions required coordinated global action. Colombia had just suffered two cold spells, unprecedented in history, in less than eight months. Experts said that destruction was equal to 10 hurricane Katrinas and that Colombia had to mobilize extra resources to get help victims and preserve the integrity of natural ecosystems. Colombia had the political will to help save the planet.
GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said he particularly regretted the fact that the Council could not respond to Nauru’s appeal. He expressed concern especially over the threat to food security. France had made agricultural security a priority. He was also concerned about the subsequent threat to water resources and the viability of coastal resources that housed more than one-third of the world’s population. The international community must respond quickly and on a global scale. It must make the Cancun gains operational and it must move forward by developing a broader legal instrument to address climate change. He pointed to the “Clean Water for All” forum to be held in Marseille in March 2012. France and Kenya had launched the Paris-Nairobi initiative last April. During next year’s Rio+20 Conference, an ambitious road map to create a green economy must be adopted and it must account for the implications of climate change on maintaining global peace and security. The Council did not intend to replace the UNFCCC; it was simply facing up to new, complex, varied threats.
Last February, the Council held a useful debate on peace, security and development, he said. He regretted that, today, but was not responding in a similar way and was not ready to make a collective statement on climate change’s implications for maintaining international peace and security. However, today’s debate was a first step. Climate change threats meant the international community must mobilize in Durban and Rio. The Council must come back to that and, in the future, express itself with a single voice. That was not overly ambitious; it was just addressing today’s sad realities.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, said responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, had been conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. While UNFCCC was the main instrument for addressing climate change, today’s discussion would not be an encroachment on the mandates of those other organs. Rather, it should be viewed as an expression of complementarity among United Nations bodies. The Secretary-General had identified climate change as a “threat multiplier”, with emerging threats like accelerated desertification, which could lead to more food insecurity and migratory flows. That, in turn, could be a source of more tension and water scarcity, which could exacerbate competition for natural resources.
He said that climate change impacts would be greater where factors for instability existed, especially in least developed countries. The cooperation of all countries, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, was needed. Indeed, the international community could not win against climate change without putting into action all the instruments in its possession. All resources should be mobilized in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, finance and capacity-building, to reduce the negative effects of global warming. For its part, the Council should play a critical role in conflict prevention by addressing the security implications of climate change.
DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), aligning with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the relevance of General Assembly resolution 63/281 (2009). Reiterating that climate change threatened development prospects and the very existence of societies, he said the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had made clear that without action, there would be dire consequences, particularly for small island developing States. South Africa joined calls for the full implementation of commitments contained in the Barbados and Mauritius Programmes of Action.
He said that while developing countries were working to eradicate poverty, they were confronted by a lack of resources and, thus, less able to deal with the negative impacts of climate change. As such, he called for a scaling up of resources, technology transfer and strengthened capacity to help those countries deal with climate change. The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol were the best instruments to deal with the broad aspects of the challenge, and all must honour their obligations under them, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The Council could ensure that the architecture was strengthened and not fragmented. The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol should be bolstered and a second commitment should be finalized as soon as possible. South Africa would spare no effort to ensure that parties achieved a balanced outcome in Durban.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said fighting climate change was a priority of Gabon’s President. Without efficient cooperation climate change could lead to cross-border movements and make energy, biology and water resources more scarce. As that was a cross-cutting issue, the Council’s involvement was all the more important. The military aspect remained important, but that was not the only way of dealing with the complexity of the threat. Given new threats to international peace and security, the global community must have the necessary tools available. Preventive diplomacy was one tool to reduce new threats. He commended the United Nations assistance to States to help them create and implement new strategies. It was vital that the Council define a framework for cooperation, with a view to more effectively combating the phenomenon. He called the international community’s attention to the need to help Africans, noting that their very survival depended on the commitment to act with increasing urgency.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said that while the Council could discuss the vulnerabilities and threats induced by climate change, it did not have the wherewithal to address the situation. The existential threat to island States or food insecurity due to climate change could not be resolved or remedied by the Council, under Article 39 of the Charter. Such issues needed a broader approach, anchored in development, adaptive capacity, risk assessment and institutional build-up. “We, therefore, have some difficulty in accepting the assertion made that the effects of climate change go beyond the mandate of the UNFCCC,” he said. Those historically responsible for climate change must come forward with firm commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adequate resource and technology aid to developing countries, particularly small island developing States, he said. Sustainable economic development and growth must be pursued to enable developing countries to reduce poverty and meet basic standards of living for all. He called for urgent attention to address agricultural protectionism, excessive speculation in food commodity trading and diversion of crops for non-food purposes, which had led to an unsustainable global food situation.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said his country did not see the Council as the forum for climate change negotiations or for discussions on measures to mitigate and adapt to environmental vulnerabilities. Those issues belonged to other “contexts” which had the legitimacy and the appropriate tools to address them. The Council’s role was to address new challenges and ensure they did not lead to tensions or conflict. Thus, there was an added value in its discussions of the impact that certain consequences of climate change might have for international peace and security and, thus, he regretted that the Council had not been able to reach consensus on an outcome for today’s discussion. A statement to be presented later today had his strong support. Finding solutions to specific security problems arising from climate change required a link between different perspectives and instruments, and could benefit from the combined contribution of different United Nations agencies.
Desertification and its effects on food production and water availability also should merit the Council’s attention, he said, as the consequences were often felt across national borders. It also contributed to the involuntary displacement of populations, which was, first and foremost, a humanitarian and development issue. But the strongest impact of desertification was felt in countries with social and economic vulnerabilities, some of which were emerging from conflict. If properly addressed, the security challenges whose effects were amplified by climate change might not necessarily lead to conflict. The Council should give priority to a preventive approach and to the development of early warning mechanisms. It also should be in a position to use existing mechanisms of dialogue to discuss the security impact of climate change with other international organizations. Regional and subregional mechanisms also should be assisted in managing shared resources.
Council President PETER WITTIG (Germany), speaking in his national capacity, aligned with the statement to be made by the European Union and recalled that, more than one year ago, the Pacific small island developing States had urged the Council to consider the security implications of climate change, and, thus, fulfil its mandate. Those countries were already suffering from the security implications of climate change: they were resettling their people and ensuring that the redistribution of basic commodities did not turn into fights for survival. Their situation was a compelling reason, in itself, to discuss the topic in the Council. Another reason was that events in some countries today might well occur in others tomorrow.
Most national security establishments considered global warming as among the biggest security challenges of the century, he said, underscoring there was no doubt that environmental degradation often acted as a driver of conflict. Such conflicts were not isolated in one country but tended to destabilize all regions. But not all States had the same capacity to adapt to dramatic environmental changes and it was the Council’s duty to “act with foresight” by doing its best to prevent crises before they became acute. For example, it had debated the interrelatedness of development with security. Germany did not want the Council to infringe on the competencies of the UNFCCC, or others, nor did the country seek to advance any such kind of encroachment. He regretted that the Council had been unable to find consensus on an outcome document for today’s meeting. While he still would prefer it to find common ground, the strong interest in today’s debate had made clear that members wished to see the topic on the Council’s agenda.
MARCUS STEPHEN, President of Nauru, speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, the Maldives, Seychelles and Timor-Leste, said many countries faced the single greatest security challenge from all the adverse impacts of climate change — their survival — which was why he had come to the Security Council today. Pacific islands faced potentially catastrophic impacts that threatened to destabilize their societies and institutions. Food and water security, as well as public safety, all were being undermined, which could eventually lead to some islands disappearing altogether, forcing large numbers of peoples to relocate — first internally and then across borders.
The Council had recognized its role in preventing conflict, he said, noting its recognition of the need to address unconventional security threats that could give rise to civil unrest, such as poverty and development. It had evaluated such problems, and in concert with other United Nations organs, deployed a variety of tools to address them. “We ask no less of you today,” he said. While UNFCCC must remain the primary forum for developing a strategy to mitigate climate change and mobilize resources, the Council had a clear role in coordinating the response to the security implications of the phenomenon. An effective international response required disaster planning and preparedness, risk assessments, and more effective multilateral coordination and preventive diplomacy.
While Council members understood the security challenges faced by Pacific and other island nations, solidarity demanded more than sympathetic words. “Demonstrate it by formally recognizing that climate change is a threat to international peace and security,” he urged. It was as great a threat as nuclear proliferation or terrorism. It should start by requesting the appointment of a special representative on climate and security, as well as an assessment of the United Nations capacity to respond to the security impacts of the phenomenon. The Council must reflect on current geopolitical realities if it was to remain relevant; it would render itself irrelevant if it chose to ignore the biggest security threat of our time. “Seize this opportunity to lead,” he implored.
RICHARD MARLES, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Australia, said he had travelled to some of the countries most affected by climate change, but least responsible for it. Twenty of Australia’s 22 closest neighbours were developing countries, mostly small island developing States. Sea-level rise, the most significant impact of climate change in his region, could reach one metre by the end of the century, resulting in more severe storm surges, coastal inundation and loss of territory. Islands and low-lying territories might become uninhabitable, and as much of 80 per cent of the Marshall Islands’ Majuro Atoll, the nation’s capital, could erode and be lost.
The sea, he said, long a source of food, sustenance and comfort, was being transformed into a source of anxiety and threat. In the short- to medium-term, a mix of sea-level rise, more intense storms and inundation would put greater pressure on coastal settlements and might lead to further localized population displacements. In the long-term, if internal resettlement was no longer an option, climate change could cause destabilizing populations as people’s lives and livelihoods were put at risk.
Australia’s commitment to the UNFCCC was demonstrated by its domestic policy reform, he said. On 10 July, the Australian Prime Minister announced that Australia would legislate a carbon price, to take effect from 1 July 2012. While a difficult political debate, it was a critical piece of public policy reform. In 2020, Australia’s carbon price would have reduced the country’s carbon pollution by 160 million tonnes, the equivalent of taking 45 million cars off the road by that year. Australia was a strong proponent of Assembly resolution 63/281 (2009), which specifically stated that the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council had the overarching responsibility for sustainable development issues. However, the Council’s focus on climate change’s potential security implications was relevant to the Council’s mandate and did not compete with the other bodies.
Least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa had been given the highest priority in Australia’s fast-start package because their needs were the most urgent, he said. Thus far, Australia had allocated $498 million — more than 80 per cent — of the $599 million in fast-start funding to which it had committed in Copenhagen. He also supported calls for a Secretary-General report on the United Nations capacity to respond to the impact of climate change on global security and how to improve that capacity.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed to General Assembly resolution 63/281 on climate change and its possible security implications, which recognized the respective responsibilities of the principal organs of the United Nations, including the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security conferred upon the Security Council, and the responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, given to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. In that regard, the continued encroachment by the Security Council on the functions and powers of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the relevant subsidiary organs through addressing issues which fell traditionally within the competence of those organs remained a source of deep concern for the Non-Aligned Movement.
Stressing that the Security Council’s need to fully observe all Charter provisions establishing the delicate balance in competence between all principle organs, he said the Movement believed that close cooperation and coordination among all principal organs was indispensable to enable the Organization to effectively meet the existing, new and emerging threats and challenges. Further, the Movement stressed that climate change and its adverse impacts had to be addressed from the perspective of sustainable development, promoting a comprehensive approach to confront the root cause of the problem. The Movement, therefore, underlined its hope that the Council’s decision to hold today’s debate would not be considered a precedent and that the debate would not result in any form of outcome that undermined the authority or mandate of the relevant bodies, processes and instruments of wider membership that already addressed climate change.
JORGE ARGÜELLO (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said all Member States must promote sustainable development in line with the Rio Principles and fully implement Agenda 21 and other relevant instruments. He stressed the international community’s critical role in giving adequate, predictable and more financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building to developing countries. The UNFCCC was the main global inter-governmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. An appropriate response must address the consequences and root causes of the problem. There was a strong case for developed countries to reduce emissions and take mitigation steps. He was “extremely concerned” that under current climate change negotiations, developed countries had given no clear indication that they would adopt a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Current mitigation pledges from developed countries’ parties in the UNFCCC negotiations were not sufficient to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that would limit global temperature rise to that called for by international scientific experts. Indeed, developed countries must raise their level of ambition.
He reiterated the need to coordinate global efforts and mobilize partners to help the observation networks throughout regional initiatives such as the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring and Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. He called on relevant United Nations bodies to reinforce regional broadcasting systems to help island communities during a disaster and increase the effectiveness of observation in those regions. Any measure taken in that context must ensure an integrated approach in responding to environmental emergencies. Support for developing countries must be bolstered. He called for full implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the Mauritius Strategy. He strongly reiterated his expectation that the Council’s initiative to hold today’s debate would not create a precedent that undermined the authority or mandate of relevant bodies, processes and instruments that already addressed climate change.
CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ(El Salvador), underscoring the negative consequences of climate change for small-scale rural subsistence economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, said small island developing States also were affected by coastal flooding, reduction of drinking water and crop loss. Developed countries must commit to the goal of reducing greenhouse gasses. Latin America was among the most vulnerable regions to climate change.
In that context, he said no State could use its territory in a way that caused serious environmental damage to others, he said, welcoming the appeal by the Group of 77 for the main United Nations organs to do more to deal with the impacts of climate change, including its security repercussions. The Council should recognize the threat of climate change to international peace and security and respond with appropriate measures. The issue required significant political will within the ambit of multilateral talks to ensure it was addressed in the longer term.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, fully shared the view that small island developing States were among the hardest-hit by climate change. In the Pacific area, the Union had a longstanding development partnership with 15 countries, addressing climate activities through a comprehensive mix of Union policies and instruments. “We should reflect on a common strategy for the region, while considering tailored actions to meet specific needs,” he said, noting that meaningful measures could be taken. Support to the poorest countries should come first and disaster preparedness should be enhanced.
He went on to say that ensuring food security was among the major challenges to be addressed, noting that climate change stood at the centre of pressures that would impact it in the coming decades. The cost of not addressing climate change would mean more food supply instability, volatility in food prices, and pressure on both water resources and migration, all of which threatened the political stability of fragile States. Two issues merited more research: access to water and water availability, which could threaten regional stability; and deforestation, which could lead to the displacement of peoples.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC (Slovenia) said climate change was “the ultimate global challenge” that called for global responsibility. Although it was already a reality, with collective effort, there was still time to secure the world’s future. The European Union was at the forefront of the climate change debate, which had led to the presentation in March 2008, during Slovenia’s Presidency, of the Joint Paper by the Union’s High Representative and the European Commission on Climate Change and International Security. That document remained a reference guide for European Union action. Success in addressing climate change depended foremost on the international community’s ability to achieve an ambitious post-2012 climate agreement and to limit global warming to below 2° C. Furthermore, building climate resilience was a priority for the most vulnerable countries and regions. UNFCCC negotiations should deliver a new climate deal that would reduce emissions and provide adequate financing and technology transfer for adaptation in developing countries. But neither could prevent climate change on their own. Close cooperation among relevant United Nations organs was needed to bolster efforts to address climate change and its potential security implications. Today’s debate was an important contribution towards that end.
CARSTEN STAUR (Denmark) said that in order to find a solution to the global threat of climate change, it was necessary to follow a multipronged strategy that incorporated climate and security in the work of all United Nations agencies as well as that of the relevant international, regional and national institutions. As developing countries were the most vulnerable, the issue must also be an integral part of international development cooperation. Such efforts had to include capacity-building to deal with security threats and political tension caused by climate change, as well as immediate adaptation activities, including improved disaster preparedness and warning systems.
Also, he said, mitigation actions must be started without delay, including further development of renewable sources and strategies on greening the economic development. Efforts to promote “global climate diplomacy” also needed strengthening, with all aspects of climate change addressed through a dialogue that promoted a coherent understanding of that issue and a common vision of its solution. In that regard, Denmark welcomed the recent European Union Foreign Affairs Council conclusions to strengthen the European Union’s climate diplomacy. To be efficient, it was important for relevant information on developments related to climate change and its security implications to be made easily accessible. He also stressed the crucial need to ensure a joint response from the international community to the global challenge of climate change to secure international peace and security.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), aligning with the European Union, underscored that the adverse impacts of climate change had repercussions on the security of many States, especially small island developing States, exacerbating poverty and the fault lines of mistrust between communities and nations. As early as 2005, the Council had underlined the need to adopt a comprehensive strategy of conflict prevention, dealing with the underlying causes of armed conflict as well as the political and social crises in a global manner.
She said that it was paramount that the implications of climate change on security be factored into the reflections and mandates of the Council, as well as into the activities of the entire United Nations. Climate change, with its potentially drastic consequences on the displacement and transfer of populations, would grow more crucial as an underlying cause of conflict.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica) said the primary responsibility for dealing with climate change should be with the UNFCCC. All efforts to deal with the issue should take that into account and aim to support work plans and goals within that framework. To tackle more than just the peripheral actions, an agreement must be reached to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations to levels established in the Convention. That could be achieved with the firm participation of the main emitters, all of which were “present around this table”, and many of which had an historic responsibility to that end. All of them should undertake a clear commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses.
The Council, he said, should concentrate on actions to avoid conflicts that could arise from climate change, including fights for water resources, forced displacements and the risk of a country disappearing. Such actions went beyond the Council’s mandate and they should be managed under the provisions of the Convention. Adaptation to climate change should be strengthened, with the major economies increasing their financial flows to those impacted by the problem, especially small island developing States. Developing countries required direct investments in early warning systems and technology transfers. Developing nations must act transparently, with good governance and respect for the rule of law. Headway would not be made if political decisions were not taken to ensure the Convention achieved its objectives.
ANTHONY SIMPSON (New Zealand) said that for low-lying small island States, including several in the Pacific, for whom climate change posed the ultimate security risk — that of ceasing to exist as States and as communities — discussion over whether today’s debate was a legitimate one for the Council seemed abstract and deeply divorced from reality. In the past few years, the Asia-Pacific region had faced a devastating series of natural disasters. In the coming years, such events would become even more frequent and severe. Those forecasts were deeply worrying. Several steps were needed to prevent and address the security impact of climate change, including building developing countries’ adaptive capacity so they could better cope with future climate-related events before they became security challenges. Resilience to climate change must take into account existing and future resource use to reduce pressures on resources, thus building necessary buffers to offset the perils and threatened supplies. He also called for measures to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stressing that the importance of this year’s Durban meeting and implementation of the Cancun agreements.
He said his country was working on adaptation and mitigation projects through bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives. New Zealand’s climate change assistance in the Pacific placed strong emphasis on “climate-proofing” new infrastructure. It was important to share best practices. New Zealand’s initiative to set up the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases aimed to ensure that efforts to reduce agricultural emissions did not compromise global food security. He supported the call by the Pacific small island developing States for possible mechanisms to support the early identification of climate-related security challenges and to promote comprehensive and cohesive research, analysis and action to address their underlying causes.
KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea), recalling the Council’s “fruitful” open debate in February on the interdependence between security and development, said today’s debate could marshal compelling arguments to encourage world leaders to reduce carbon emissions and invest in adaptation to guard against insecurity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had estimated that between 350 and 600 million Africans would be at risk of increased water stress by the middle of the century, while yields from rain-fed agriculture could be slashed by up to 50 per cent by 2020. Given the global nature of climate change, responses to it called for the widest possible cooperation.
He said that while the UNFCCC was the key instrument for addressing climate change, relevant United Nations organs, as appropriate and within their mandates, should intensify their efforts to address climate change and its possible security implications. Due to its link to other global issues like poverty, underdevelopment and the food and energy crises, climate change should be addressed in the broader context of sustainable development. That approach had his Government’s strong support. He hoped that today’s debate would jumpstart the search for wise solutions and help lead to a breakthrough in climate change talks.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) said his country had strong links with small island developing States in the Pacific and shared their concerns regarding climate change. Today’s debate should not divert the authority and efforts of relevant processes dealing with such an important matter. Nor should it prevent the international community from strengthening mitigation, adaptation, and economic, social and environmental development. Global cooperation and the exchange of relevant information as well as increased scientific research would lead to solutions to climate change. In dealing with serious matters such as the spread of desertification, it was necessary to reaffirm that the UNFCCC was the fundamental instrument to address climate change. He stressed the importance of common but differentiated responsibility, advancing towards a broad, legally binding agreement and concluding negotiations as soon as possible on the Kyoto Protocol in order to avoid a vacuum between commitment periods.
TALAIBEK KYDYROV (Kyrgyzstan) said food insecurity, due to food price hikes, in least developed and developing countries was especially complicated for mountain countries like Kyrgyzstan and could eventually lead to food shortages followed by conflict. It was important, therefore, to implement Assembly resolution 64/205 on sustainable mountain development in terms of ensuring food security for mountain countries. Fresh water supplies from the glaciers of Kyrgyzstan had been rapidly decreasing, owing to the 20 per cent reduction of glacier surface in the last 30 to 40 years. It could decline further by 35 per cent in 20 years, causing critical freshwater shortage and negative consequences for global peace and security, and fully disappear by 2100. Effective inter- and intra-State water use and allocation measures were needed, as well as forestry conservation, natural disaster prevention, and environment-friendly renewable energy source development. Natural disasters must be taken into account when implementing conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding, and post-conflict stabilization measures.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said climate change was far from being a threat to international peace and security in the strictest sense, however, science had illuminated the risks associated with that challenge. Commitments taken eight months ago in Cancún must be adhered to, while the international legal framework should be strengthened and “adjusted to the task”. Without reducing emissions, the impacts of climate change would limit agricultural production, increase soil degradation and produce changes in the vectors of disease transmission — all of which would be felt most strongly in the poorest countries. The effects of climate change also would affect social stability.
Such challenges could not be solved with one single solution, she said, but rather involved participation of all actors in society. In Cancún, results had been achieved. For its part, Mexico was implementing its commitments, which had allowed the country to reduce its emissions as much as possible in the short- and medium-term. In Durban, the collective ambition must be further developed. The Kyoto Protocol was a rules-based system to achieve goals and it must be complemented by another protocol for countries that had not committed to it.
DIEGO MOREJÓN (Ecuador), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and the Non-Aligned Movement, agreed that the UNFCCC was the mandated body to steer climate change issues. The Kyoto Protocol should be respected, as must Annex I commitments. The General Assembly, as the United Nations universal body, was the ideal forum for recommending ways to address the repercussions of climate change. Indeed, climate change was affecting ecosystems around the world, to which developing countries were most vulnerable. That called for a cohesive response, which included technology transfers. Also essential was to boost political support for the second Kyoto Protocol period. Existing instruments should be used as a basis for that work, and agreements adopted under the Convention should be strengthened.
RODOLFO ELISEO BENÍTEZ VERSÓN (Cuba) expressed serious concern over the Council’s growing, excessive encroachment of the functions of other principal United Nations organs. Climate change must be discussed under the sustainable development cluster. Therefore, it must be addressed in the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and their relevant subsidiary bodies. The main reason why the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol had not been achieved and the existence of small island developing States was threatened was the lack of political will of developed countries to pay their historical debt to the planet. If the Council wanted to contribute seriously to the search for solutions, it should begin with a statement that stressed, among other things, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, underscore the importance for developed countries to meet their international development commitments, call upon industrialized nations to assume a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol with measurable and more ambitious goals on emissions reduction, and recognize that the main cause of climate change was the unsustainable production and consumption patterns in developed countries.
MARY ELIZABETH FLORES (Honduras) said that limiting today’s debate only to the impacts of rising sea levels and food security was simplistic, as each time nature rebelled against humans, its predatory actions provoked chain reactions. Some degree of preparedness, in the form of identifying solutions to vulnerabilities, had proven helpful in mitigating the consequences. In designing policies, it was imperative to consider the differences among countries in terms of geography, politics and culture. Honduras was devising a mitigation strategy and building awareness around the belief that only by safeguarding its natural richness would it be able to preserve its ecosystems. Honduras’ vulnerability also was related to peoples’ lack of ability to find decent work and live under a safe roof. Its reality was very different from that of more privileged nations and required a precise understanding to ensure that solutions suitable to others were not mistakenly transferred to Honduras.
ANNE WEBSTER (Ireland), aligning with the European Union, said rising sea levels presented the ultimate security threat to States whose very existence was at stake. A stark picture of the grim reality had been brought home at a conference of Women Leaders on Climate Justice, at which speakers from Papua New Guinea’s Carteret Islands described how unprecedented high tides had destroyed the soil for food production, forcing the evacuation of all 1,500 islanders to Bougainville. Statelessness and territory loss had become a realistic prospect rather than theoretical possibility. The United Nations could foster a global response to such phenomena.
Perhaps the greatest impact of climate change was an increase in the scale and intensity of hunger, she said, noting that millions of people were at risk of starvation in some of the most hostile conditions imaginable. More than 78,000 Somalis had fled their country in the last two months. The security implications of more frequent, more extreme weather events included hunger, coupled with failing yields and escalating food prices. The case for the Security Council to recognize the threat of climate change to international peace and security was clear and compelling. Its work in that area was supported by various instruments, including resolution 1625 (2005). Ireland supported the mandates for the Council to request the Secretary-General to report on contextual information involving the drivers of conflict. Climate change was one such driver.
TAKESHI OSUGA (Japan) said the anticipated timeframe for dealing with climate change was different than that for dealing with armed conflict, even though climate change would have indirect adverse effects on security. At the same time, he urged caution in considering what role the Council could play in global warming as it related to international peace and security. Receding coastlines would affect territorial waters. Those impacts that would not be limited to small island developing States, and thus, could incite disputes. Sea-level rise would aggravate the vulnerability of coastal States to environmental hazards, which also could raise the risk of conflict. Food security, the distribution of water resources and global health all would be impacted, weakening communities’ ability to resolve existing disputes.
The poorest countries, and the poorest people and communities within a country, were the most vulnerable to climate change, he said. Japan understood the nexus between climate change, development and security. A fair, effective international framework in which all major economies took part must be established, while agreements reached under the UNFCCC should be built upon. Japan would engage in preparations for the seventeenth Conference of Parties. In Copenhagen, Japan had pledged to provide $15 billion to developing countries to 2012 and had implemented $9.7 billion up to this year. His Government was fully committed to supporting small island developing States. To promote global cooperation on disaster risk reduction, a new global strategy must be devised to succeed the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015). Japan was willing to host a third world conference on that topic.
VANU GOPALA MENON (Singapore) stressed the need to recognize that the UNFCCC was and would remain the primary forum for climate change negotiations. The aim of today’s debate was not to prejudice the ongoing negotiations, but he saw a need for the UNFCCC to work closely with other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, especially concerning adaptation and capacity-building. The Council could also make an important contribution to climate change discussions by helping to build greater awareness of the catastrophic long-term consequences of climate change, including the possible security consequences. It could also help reinforce ongoing efforts to inject political momentum into the UNFCCC negotiating process for a successful outcome in Durban. In that regard, Council members must show leadership. The success of multilateral negotiations must be a collective effort. Developed countries clearly had a historical responsibility to address climate change, but all countries must participate and act with a sense of urgency.
GRÉTA GUNNARSDÓTTIR (Iceland) said it was timely and important for the Council to address the security implications of climate change. The UNFCCC framework was the primary forum for addressing climate change internationally, but the Council should recognize the threats to global peace and security and seek ways to address them. Climate change magnified existing inequalities. Women were especially vulnerable. Rural areas in developing States, emerging economies as well as sectors and activities traditionally associated with women were disproportionately affected by climate change. Women faced greater hardships with household activities and the daily struggle for survival. Fewer water resources also negatively effected health, sanitation and food security, additionally burdening women. Due to their social roles and responsibilities, women were also more vulnerable to natural disasters than men. The principles guiding the Council when it adopted resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security must guide its work when addressing today’s topic. The Council must ensure that the response to climate change took the gender perspective into account and that both sexes were included in decision-making and implementation.
GILLES RIVARD (Canada) said his country strove to be an accountable and reliable partner of small island developing States and had consistently supported effective responses by the Security Council to new and emerging security challenges. While climate change had the potential to act as a stressor in failed and fragile States, it would not be the driver of conflict. To support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing States, Canada had contributed $400 million in new and additional climate financing for the 2010-2011 fiscal year alone.
He went on to say that Canada also had played a lead role in supporting responses to food crises, notably in 2009, when it pledged to more than double its investment in sustainable agricultural development. Food security was also among its five international assistance priorities. Such solutions could enhance resilience, build institutions and reduce economic devastation, which, in turn, built a strong foundation for the maintenance of peace and security.
ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea) reiterated the unequivocal statement made by the President of Nauru that the UNFCCC was and must remain the primary forum for developing an international strategy to mitigate climate change, mobilize financial resources and facilitate adaptation planning and project implementation. He also strongly supported the President of Nauru’s call for the General Assembly to continue addressing the links between climate change and sustainable development. He called for a “whole United Nations approach” to address climate change that would involve all relevant United Nations organs. Each must play its respective role, be it to set up the relevant policy framework moving forward or to finance the various climate change response mechanisms. The Council also had an important role to play. It must exercise its mandate to address the security implications of climate change, including future contingencies. The same purposeful approach employed by the Council to tackle HIV/AIDS and development issues should be used to address the security implications of climate change.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said the Council’s repeated encroachment into Charter-defined mandates of other principal United Nations organs was a matter of serious concern. While the Council had not been able or willing to genuinely address the well-established causes of insecurity and conflicts worldwide, its insistence on delving into issues outside its competence that were not generally believed or proven to threaten world peace and security was reprehensible. Overstretching the Council, with its current exclusive structure and non-transparent working methods, would have grave consequences on the functioning of other United Nations bodies. Rather, Council members could best be of service in combating climate change by honouring their commitments to capacity-building, the unconditional transfer of climate-friendly technologies and the provision of financial resources to countries most in need, particularly small island developing States, least developed countries and Africa. They should also commit to meaningfully reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, and supporting the statements delivered on behalf the Non-Aligned Movement and Group of 77, stressed that the responsibility to maintain international peace and security fell primarily on the Security Council. He cited resolution 377 (1950) in that regard. The Council should not encroach on the mandates of other principal United Nations bodies. Climate change, integral to sustainable development, must be tackled in a holistic manner, and responsibilities for that issue were borne by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and their subsidiary bodies.
He stressed the need for all States to support sustainable development in line with the Rio principles, especially that for common but and differentiated responsibilities. The UNFCCC was the best forum for dealing with the dangers of climate change and for measures to be taken in accordance with the Convention. Developed countries that had yet to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol must do so. He also emphasized that no Security Council presidential or press statement should be issued after today’s open debate, especially any that would undermine relevant organs or processes.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan) said that while climate change deliberations were within the purview of the General Assembly and the UNFCCC, her Government understood the rationale for discussing the topic in the Council, as its effects seriously threatened human security. The vast number of emergency appeals for humanitarian aid as a response to climate-related crises was leading to irreversible security scenarios. The security risks directly affected national and international interests, requiring a comprehensive policy response to deal with food, water and energy shortages. The areas most affected would be those under demographic pressure and a massive influx of “environmental” migrants, which would lead to political, religious and ethnic radicalization.
As such, she recommended strengthening the UNFCCC to address the impacts of climate change on international security. It was critical to enhance knowledge, assess the capacities of regional bodies and Member States, and improve early disaster response. The financial implications for such responses should be considered by the United Nations and donors. Also, the security dimension of climate change could strain international relations, as well as donor capacity, but it was becoming a positive driver for reforming global governance in the United Nations and its specialized agencies, as well as the regional political structures. She urged that international climate change negotiations continue, with a due focus on the General Assembly in tandem with all the system’s organs.
THOMAS LAMBERT (Belgium), aligning with the European Union, said that since the Secretary-General’s 2009 report, the issue of climate change had not been present in debates in New York. While the UNFCCC was the adequate forum for dealing with that phenomenon, other organs, like the Security Council and the Assembly, should remain seized of the matter. Some might argue that the threats of climate change were remote, but that was not the case. Abrupt climate change could lead to the rapid “die-back” of tropical forests and to higher sea levels. As the first avenue for prevention was mitigation, he urged that UNFCCC negotiations be stepped up to make more progress.
Beyond that, he said it was essential for States to increase their readiness to cope with the effects of climate change, including the relocation of people in small and low-lying islands, which had already begun. Climate change was also threatening the very resources vital for human life: water, fertile land, food and energy. Scarcity might lead to a breakdown of coping mechanisms of groups or individuals, and carry with it a growing risk of instability and conflict. Climate change would become a more important factor among the root causes of conflict. In response, a framework for preventive diplomacy was needed, as were steps towards a coherent approach within the United Nations system.
ROBERTO RODRÍGUEZ (Peru) said there was historic need to combat climate change. Peru’s population lived in a highly diverse ecosystem. El Nino had caused coastal flooding and several droughts in the Andes, with grave social and economic consequences. The rapid melting of Peru’s glaciers, which accounted for half of the tropical glaciers worldwide, reduced the availability of water for human consumption, agriculture and energy. The Peruvian Amazon forest, Latin America’s second-largest forest, was an incalculable biodiversity reserve. The threat to climate change was by no means a foreign concept to Peru. Global concerted action through the UNFCC, particularly based on common but differentiated responsibility, was needed to address it. It was urgent to adopt specific measures to contain greenhouse gas emissions, and he called for creation of lower carbon intensity processes, financing and cooperation mechanisms. Peru was highly dependent on agriculture, most of which relied exclusively on rainfall. It was extremely vulnerable to climate change, and he called for global measures to ensure food security worldwide, particularly through effective strategies, financing mechanisms, extended North-South cooperation and other measures.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), aligning with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said climate change-induced food insecurity, the uprooting of populations and related adversity threatened international peace and security. He called on parties concerned to implement pledges in the Joint Statement on Global Food Security, adopted at the 2009 L’Aquila Summit. Sea-level rise was another concern for Bangladesh, as it could displace 30 to 50 million people from the country’s coastal belts by 2050, depriving those people of their livelihoods.
The effects of climate change would be severe on least developed countries and small island developing States, he explained, calling for the full implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, the Mauritius Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. Agenda 21, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also should be fully implemented by all stakeholders. Developed countries should ensure provision of adequate and predictable resources, and transfer technology to developing nations, while the United Nations must have an integrated approach to mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change.
RAFAEL ARCHONDO (Bolivia) expressed solidarity with the island States. Climate change was a real threat to humanity and Mother Earth. But the Council should not deal with it because some of the main emitters of global greenhouse gases were permanent Council members and they had the right to veto. The security implications of climate change should be dealt with in a forum where the guilty parties did not have seats for life or the right to veto. The main victims — including island States at risk of disappearing, countries with glaciers, Africa and developing nations — must have adequate representation. The only forums that could provide that were the UNFCCC and the General Assembly, which should deal with all aspects of climate change. Developed countries should increase their commitment to reduce global greenhouse gases. According to the World Humanitarian Forum, 350,000 people died annually due to climate change events.
For that reason, he said, a body should be set up to guarantee the rights of nature as well as to judge and sanction those guilty of not complying with their commitments to reduce emissions, because they were provoking genocide and “ecocide” against Mother Earth. He called for the creation of an international tribunal for climate and environmental justice. Developed countries only gave $10 billion annually to address climate change, just 1 per cent of their defence and security spending. They should redirect defence funds to address development in island States, Africa, mountain countries, and all affected poor regions. The Council should adopt a resolution that would cut defence and security spending by 20 per cent and use that money instead to address the impact of climate change.
STUART BECK (Palau), associating with Nauru, said the Security Council was responsible for carrying out the most crucial international tasks and had been accorded extraordinary powers by the Charter. When a threat to international peace and security arose, it had the mandate and “limitless” ability to act, a basic function that should be uncontroversial. Palau, therefore, was surprised to hear any opposition to an outcome from today’s debate, as the best available science clearly had shown clearly that the Western Pacific region had already undergone twice as much sea-level rise as other regions. Pacific small island developing States were “in the red zone”.
Perhaps if others stood on its vanishing shores they would appreciate its situation, he said. While the causes of that threat were novel, its effects — which endangered sovereignty and territorial integrity — fit squarely within the Council’s traditional mandate. The Council had before it modest, constructive and achievable proposals and he requested that it adopt them. If not, he pledged that Palau would continue to call on every United Nations organ to intensify its efforts to address climate change and security.
CSABA KÖRÖSI (Hungary), aligning with the European Union, discussed the direct threats from rising water levels, saying that for some countries, the loss of territory might be fatal. In Europe, 20 to 30 million people could be forced to leave their homes in the next 50 to 70 years, and globally, more than 300 million could be relocated. Vulnerable societies could be overburdened by such events. The indirect threats could involve a challenge to fishing and mining rights if territorial waters and exclusive economic zones changed significantly. Traditional donors should spend more on mitigation projects and less on assisting other areas.
In addition, there would be inland security consequences, he said, citing dramatically changed conditions for food production and increased volatility of rivers, which would result in uncontrollable floods. “Food security in the last 60 years has never been as fragile as today,” he said, urging that an analysis of peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities of the Council, as well as other bodies, be carried out to prevent States from relapsing into conflict. The international community should spare no effort in responding to the impacts of climate change. With that, he urged that the Council “maintain its vigilance” on the security implications of climate change.
JANNE TAALAS (Finland), aligning his country with the statement of the European Union, said it was clear that climate change would have significant security implications, noting that sea-level rise and food security were directly linked to international peace and security. Only 20 years ago it was unimaginable that small island nations could be submerged due to sea-level rise. Today that prospect was all too real, and climate change would have an adverse impact on food production and freshwater resources. That impact would be worse in areas already under environmental stress. That situation could lead not only to population shifts, but to political unrest as well.
While the impact of climate change varied from region to region, the small island developing States were most at risk, said Mr. Taalas, explaining that although they were not the cause of climate change, they could well become its first victims unless remedial action was taken as a priority. For its part, Finland was partnering with many small island developing States to build their capacity to act internationally and to adapt locally. In that regard, his country supported the capacity development of the Alliance of Small Island States and the Pacific Small Island Developing States and had meteorological cooperation projects in the Pacific and Caribbean regions. Concluding, he said that the Security Council, given its pre-eminent role in maintaining international peace and security, should keep an eye on emerging security implications of climate change. He pledged that if his country was elected to the Council next year, it would contribute actively to any such assessment and action.
JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning with the Group of 77, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, said the possible security implications of climate change must be addressed at the multilateral level by bodies that were inclusive, representative and transparent. The Security Council should refrain from encroaching on the functions that the United Nations Charter or tradition had placed within the General Assembly’s purview. That said, urgent actions taken to address climate change would reduce the security implications associated with it.
With leadership, a bold response to climate change was possible, he said, underlining that it was morally and ethically unacceptable to fail to respond to the needs of peoples facing hunger, drought, extreme weather events and the loss of life, when the means and tools were at States’ disposal to address those problems. No effort was being spared to avert a global financial meltdown and a similar effort was required to avert a climate catastrophe. In that context, he urged developed countries to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing financial and technological assistance to poor countries. The Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy must also be fully and quickly implemented.
FAZLI ÇORMAN ( Turkey) said climate change posed a risk too great to ignore, which could not be met by any single State alone. Turkey was fully committed to contributing to global efforts to address climate change and considered the UNFCCC the central multilateral instrument to guide collective actions. Indeed, States must work together to define the elements of the post-2012 regime. Climate change posed a severe risk to political and social stability, especially in overpopulated and underdeveloped regions, such as water shortfalls, declines in agricultural productivity, sea-level rise and spikes in the rates and geographic scope of malaria, to name a few.
He explained that those effects would curtail sustainable development, and that small island developing States and least developed countries would be hit hardest, with their structural constraints and limited resources. Given such circumstances, adaptation merited further consideration. A key issue was the identification of successful cases of adaptation. Stressing that sufficient long-term financing and novel technologies were needed, he said it was clear the international community must speed its efforts to combat climate change. Such efforts would contribute to prosperity, peace and security.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), aligning himself with both the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, pointed out that his country, like many developing island States, was highly vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change. The increasing frequency and severity of floods, droughts and typhoons were already stretching to the limit his Government’s capacity and resources to aid the victims of natural disasters. Global warming also had affected the country’s yield of staple crops such as rice and corn; and even marine resources had felt the effects of the phenomenon. The recent toll in the fish kill in some provinces of the Philippines continued to mount, endangering the livelihood of thousands of fisher folk, he noted.
The rise in the sea-level was another threat to the integrity of the Philippine archipelago, and to that end, he shared the grave concern of the small island developing States about the short- and long-term consequences of climate change and the havoc it would bring if nothing was done to mitigate its pernicious consequences. ”It is ironic that small island and developing States, particularly those in the tropical areas like the Philippines, are the least responsible for this global problem and yet they face and bear the most adverse consequences,” he observed. Climate change, particularly global warming, would continue unless significant gains were achieved in the campaign to immediately reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Thus, he called for the involvement of the entire international community in the search for the best course of action to take now, instead of waiting for “a major catastrophic event to happen”.
Following a readout of a presidential statement by the Security Council President, MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said climate change impacted Kenyans’ lives and livelihoods in ways that were difficult to describe, as lives were lost and children suffered. Food security, the water situation, the drying up of rivers and access to shelter — driven by the disappearance of forests — all were conditions directly related to the human security of Kenyans. Health and education also were directly affected, as people found themselves forced out of their homes by drought or the lack of food. Today, Kenya faced another drought, following that of 2008. It was a weather-based economy, depending on agriculture — the backbone of the economy — and wildlife. It had suffered a 3 to 5 per cent loss in economic growth due to climate change.
He said Kenya had truly scarce resources, as less than one third of the country was arable, making land a “premium product”. In the last month, 1,300 people had entered Kenya, joining Somalis who had already sought refuge in the country, driven by the lack of food, water and security. “This is a real concern for us and the correlation between that and climate change is direct,” he stressed. Indeed, the Horn of Africa was experiencing the most severe drought in years, and Kenya was conscious of what efforts it would take to achieve peace and stability, and the kind of economic growth that would allow it to overcome poverty. In that context, he underlined the need for a clear, determined long-term solution. The Security Council, and by extension, the General Assembly, was starting to understand that climate change was a serious enough situation to require solutions that everyone could use to change the opportunities for their children.
DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN ( Sudan) underscored the need to coordinate United Nations bodies and agencies dedicated to conflict prevention in order to combat the security effects of climate change. Aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77, and the Arab Group, he said Sudan had suffered from a conflict in the Darfur district. Drought and desertification brought on by climate change were among the basic reasons for that conflict. There was a saying that a shepherd could not see his cow die, but rather, could see his son die before his eyes.
He said that if the international community had helped Sudan address the basic reasons for conflict — a lack of economic development stemming from drought and desertification — Sudan would not have needed the $3 billion spent on peacekeeping operations in Darfur. It would have been better to spend those funds on addressing the problems emanating from desertification and drought. Sudan, within the Doha round of trade talks, had reached a basic document accepted by all stakeholders in Darfur, which he hoped would bring a rapid end to the conflict there. Sudan also had established a bank. If the United Nations concentrated on the basic causes of the conflict, peace and security could be achieved.
HENRY TACHIE-MENSON (Ghana) expressed his country’s firm belief that investment in adaptation activities that provided information on vulnerability, climate risk and early warning signals, and the building of States’ adaptive capacities through measures such as co-management of water resources as well as support to domestic and regional conflict resolution institutions, would enhance security and reduce the potential for conflicts. Similarly, responses to “environmental wars” should not focus mainly on military solutions to secure resources or erect barriers to migration, but instead on the cost-effective alternative of adaptation.
He further expressed the hope that putting climate change in that “high politics category” of security would not draw attention away from such development challenges such as extreme poverty, access to education, and HIV/AIDS, all of which posed an urgent threat to vulnerable societies. They all needed to be addressed together. In that context, it was Ghana’s fervent hope that today’s debate would lead to actions that complemented and acted as a boost to the work of the relevant institutions tasked with handling sustainable development issues, and that such actions would be timely, concerted and sustainable.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela), aligning with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned movement, said the Council’s growing “invasion” of the functions and responsibilities of other United Nations organs was a “distortion” of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, an abuse of authority that affected the rights of the majority of Member States. Matters of sustainable development belonged to the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and auxiliary organs, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Venezuela refused any climate change initiative presented outside the scope of the UNFCCC, he said, as that would deeply affect multilateral institutions focused on that issue. Climate change had not been ruled a mandate of the Security Council. Venezuela would cooperate on the cause of sustainable development of small, insular States. Within the UNFCCC, his Government had called for strengthening the institutions and mechanisms that would contribute to the creation of State capacities to counteract the effects of climate change. With that, he urged States to promote sustainable development by joining the principles of the Rio Convention, and to fully apply Agenda 21.
LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji) said the territorial integrity of small island developing States — and their very existence as sovereign nations — faced far greater threats from climate change than from human conflict or other atrocities. The nature of the security implications of climate change should demonstrate the need for attention from all principal United Nations organs. In requesting the Council to deal with today’s topic, Fiji did not consider there to be any encroachment on the mandates of other relevant United Nations organs and bodies. “What we are asking the Council to do is fulfil its responsibilities conferred upon it by the Charter,” he said.
Fiji also requested that the Council fully respect the mandates of other principle United Nations organs, as well as other relevant bodies, processes and instruments addressing climate change, he said, reaffirming that UNFCCC was the primary forum for developing an international strategy to mitigate climate change and mobilize resources. The General Assembly also should continue to address the links between climate change and sustainable development. As a cross-cutting issue, climate change should be given the necessary attention it deserved. The price of inaction would be immeasurably high, as history taught there would be severe security implications arising from the great challenges ahead.
?UKASZ ZIELI?SKI (Poland), aligning with the European Union, said climate change could weaken fragile Governments and increase migratory pressures, while its potential consequences for water availability and food security, among other things, could aggravate existing tensions and generate new conflicts. Water should be at the centre of climate adaptation efforts, as water shortage had the potential to cause civil unrest and significant economic loss. Investments and water management policy changes should be prioritized.
Moreover, competition over access to and control over energy resources was among the most significant sources of potential conflicts, he said, as much of the world’s strategic reserves were in regions vulnerable to climate change. The main threat to energy security came from reliance on imports and lack of infrastructure, and transforming energy systems to reduce emissions would be indispensable to reaching mitigation actions. “Urgent action at the global level is needed to face the security challenges of climate change,” he said, which required new thinking in foreign policy “outside the environmental box”. Countries’ capacity for early warning must be strengthened. A global framework of risk management also was needed, as was enhanced international cooperation to monitor the security threats related to climate change.
OMBENI Y. SEFUE (United Republic of Tanzania) said poor countries like his had the least capacity to mitigate the impact of climate change. The solution to climate change was sustainable development. Climate change was best handled by entities mandated to deal with sustainable development, and not the Council. During a similar discussion in 2007, most Member States felt that the Council should avoid treading on the mandates of other United Nations entities such as UNFCCC and the Economic and Social Council. The threat of possible loss of land mass and the subsequent creation of climate refugees was a threat that his country shared with Pacific islands. For that reason, he attached great importance to the ongoing multilateral negotiations aimed at amicable solutions. Isolating climate change could weaken a possible early conclusion of UNFCCC negotiations. The Secretary-General should be asked to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the size and scope of the threat facing Pacific islands and others in similar positions, as well as present various options and solutions for the Assembly’s consideration. Countries that provided carbon sequestration services must be given incentives. His country had dedicated more than 30 per cent of its land mass for forest reserves and national parks.
RON PROSOR (Israel) said today’s debate provided a timely opportunity to “think outside the box” on the effects of climate change on peace and security, which were real and would become more evident in the years to come. Israel recognized that climate change held particular significance for Pacific small island developing States. The challenges associated with climate change required an immediate, coordinated and wide-ranging international response.
For its part, Israel continued to work towards achieving a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, he said. It was also working to improve the efficiency of energy systems and increasing the use of renewable energy sources. Knowledge in those fields would be critical in adaptation efforts. In addition, Israel would again initiate a resolution on “agricultural technology for development” in the General Assembly, which would promote the use of sustainable agricultural technology.
JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA (Spain) said that today, “hazy” security threats stemmed from lack of access to drinking water, global pandemics and environmental issues, to name a few. The Council had spent time on development and HIV/AIDS issues, as they constituted threats to international security. Climate change must be tackled from the same point of view, and he was pleased that agreement had been reached on a presidential statement.
Aligning with the European Union, he said that Spain, on 28 June, had adopted a new security strategy in which climate change was among the main vectors of security risks. It anticipated conflicts to be generated by lack of access to resources and poverty. On a global level, climate change required joint coordination and responsibility, and Spain was committed to actively participating in multilateral forums, including the UNFCCC and the Security Council. In sum, he reiterated Spain’s commitment to combating climate change.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI (Italy), aligning with the European Union, noted that climate change was a “threat multiplier” and pointed out that the international community had yet to fully activate the “threat minimizers” that could lower the risk of climate-related insecurity, such as a globally-shared climate mitigation and adaptation mechanism, and a system of strengthened international cooperation, preventive diplomacy and mediation. Sea-level rise was among the most dramatic and tangible climate-related insecurity factors as it seriously endangered the living conditions of millions of people.
He went on to say that small island developing States must be adequately supported in their efforts at adaptation and disaster preparedness and in drafting sustainable development policies. Careful consideration must also be given to situations in which sea-level rise threatened to significantly alter the coastline, impacting territorial borders and the division of maritime zones. In addition, food security, though not a direct consequence of climate change, could be aggravated by global warming and extreme weather. As such, he called for doubling efforts to increase food supply and stabilize food prices. In sum, action on the security-related aspects alone would be in vain unless the root causes of climate change were addressed.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan), associating with the Group of 77, considered today’s debate an important contribution to the search for solutions within the UNFCCC-led process. In a wide-ranging description of the perils of global warming, he said that conflict, and not cooperation, was fast becoming the world condition. “If we are to have any chance at disaster prevention or consequence management, we must act quickly and decisively,” he said, as coming catastrophes would exacerbate current conflicts.
Today, he said, climate change was an inescapable reality for Pakistan, which was manifesting itself with increasing ferocity. His country was among the worst victims of “climate injustice”, and dealing with the phenomenon was an imperative. Against that backdrop, climate change affected almost all sectors of the country, including water resources, energy and agricultural productivity. With that, he underlined the vital work undertaken by the UNFCCC, stressing the importance of the mandates of the United Nations principal organs and the need for the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to retain their pre-eminence.
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