India questions rush to declare climate change a security issue

Envoy to UN points to the pitfalls in the approach

Updated - January 26, 2019 09:37 pm IST

Published - January 26, 2019 09:25 pm IST - UNITED NATIONS

The United Nations headquarters in New York City. File

The United Nations headquarters in New York City. File

India has questioned the rush at the UN to declare climate change an international security issue, potentially giving the Security Council the right to take action on it, and pointed to the pitfalls in the approach.

A “mere decision of the Council” to take over enforcement of climate change action will disrupt the Paris Agreement and multilateral efforts to find solutions, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council on Friday.

India has been wary of the Council’s mission creep as it tries to extend its reach beyond what is allocated in the UN Charter by redefining other issues, even as it struggles to fulfil its primary functions.

An inclusive framework

Taking aim at the composition of the Council that does not reflect the contemporary world, Mr. Akbaruddin asked: “Can the needs of climate justice be served by shifting climate law-making from the inclusive UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) to decision-making by a structurally unrepresentative institution with an exclusionary approach decided in secretive deliberations.”

He said the main point of contention “is about what manner, which aspects and which global governance mechanisms are best suited to tackle these phenomena” and India favoured a cautious approach.

The Council was discussing the impact of climate-related disasters on international peace and security after the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, said the trends of heat waves, heavier rains, higher sea levels and severe damage to agriculture “represent a security risk for the entire world.” “The relationship between climate-related risks and conflict is complex and often intersects with political, social, economic and demographic factors,” she said.

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