posted on Mon 18 Jul 2011 12:03 PM
Impact of Climate Change Debate

On Wednesday, 20 July, the Council is scheduled to have a debate on the impact of climate change on the maintenance of international peace and security. Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Achim Steiner will speak. According to a concept paper circulated by Germany (president of the Council this month) the two key areas of focus should be the rising sea level and its impact on coastal and small island states and threats to food security due to climate change and the resulting risks to peace and security.

The only previous time the Council has discussed climate change was in April 2007 at a high-level debate initiated by the UK on the relationship between energy, security and climate.

Council members are meeting at expert level this afternoon to continue negotiations on a draft presidential statement. Expert level meetings on the draft began on 8 July. Some members are not convinced that the Council should take any decisions on this issue. These members seem comfortable with holding a debate but consider that exercising the Council’s formal powers should be reserved for cases with more explicit threats to peace or security. China, in particular, has made it clear that it does not favour a Council decision for this reason. It appears that a number of elected members who are skeptical about an outcome from the debate are nevertheless willing to negotiate a text.

It seems that the draft text has been revised to take into account unhappiness from some members with having a regular Secretary-General’s report on this thematic issue and making the language more general. However, it is unclear if this will be sufficient to accommodate those countries that feel no outcome is necessary.