Tuesday, June 2, 2009

UN General Assembly to Consider Resolution on Climate Change and Security

Tomorrow (June 3), the UN General Assembly will take up a resolution on the security implications of climate change, titled "Climate change and its possible security implications". This resolution notes the UN Security Council debate in 2007, led by Great Britain, about the security implications of a warming climate. It goes on to say that the Assembly is "deeply concerned" that climate change, particularly sea level rise, could have security implictions. The resolution -- as most things debated in the UN -- offers non-binding responses, but it does request a report from the Secretary-General about the security implications of climate change.

About the resolution, an article in last week's New York Times says:

The hard-fought resolution, brought by 12 Pacific island states, says that climate change warrants greater attention from the United Nations as a possible source of upheaval worldwide and calls for more intense efforts to combat it.
The resolution was originally brought by small island states, in order to ask the UN Security Council to address the issues of soveriegnty and migration if their land is lost to rising seas. The issue of bringing it to the Security Council was too controversial for some members, and drew opposition. Now that it only asks for a report, it is likely to be accepted by the full Assembly tomorrow.

Even though its a non-binding resolution, actions like this are extremely important in the debate about climate change. Sometimes, government leaders get stuck in thinking about cliamte change in purely cost-benefit terms. Instead, we should look at the potential long-term security effects of a warming climate, then determine the best course of action.

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