‘Mutual suicide’: US issues stern climate change warning | Business and economic news

The United States has warned that the inaction of world powers on climate change amounts to a “mutual suicide pact” after countries like China, India and Russia expressed skepticism about the threat to the United States. global security that this represented.

John Kerry, the president’s special climate envoy, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the Pentagon had described the climate crisis as “a threat multiplier”.

“But even though climate change has been repeatedly called an ‘existential threat’, we honestly need to respond as a world with the urgency required,” said Kerry.

He called the climate situation “unquestionably a Security Council issue” after some countries said it had no room for discussion in the UN body.

“In fact, this is one of the most complex and urgent security issues I think we have ever faced.”

Not dealing with climate change is “moving towards what almost amounts to a mutual suicide pact,” Kerry said. “We stick our heads in the sand at our peril. There is an urgent need to address the climate crisis as the urgent security threat it poses. “

The stance of President Joe Biden’s administration contrasts sharply with that of former US leader Donald Trump, who withdrew from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord and ignored climate policy for his four years in power.

Experts believe the world needs to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier to ensure long-term warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and avoid triggering hotspots. catastrophic climatic changes.

The world has warmed by 1.2 ° C (2.2 ° F) since the mid-19th century and the goal now is to prevent a further warming of 0.3 ° C (0.5 ° F). ) from now on.

‘Serious doubts’

Russia, India and China said climate change should be addressed in other global forums, not the UN lead group on looming global threats.

Russia has been particularly opposed to the talks.

“We agree that climate change issues can exacerbate conflict. But are they really the root cause of these conflicts? There are serious doubts about this, ”said Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia.

“The link between climate and conflict can only be considered with regard to certain countries and regions, to speak about it in general terms and in a global context has no justification”, he added.

If Russia is committed to taking action against climate change, “it should be done through the mechanisms where it is handled by professionals.”

China’s special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua acknowledged that climate change is linked to insecurity, but broadly issued a similar line to Russia.

“International climate cooperation must progress with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” he said in a long speech praising China’s recent commitments, including its goal of reaching its peak emissions by 2030 and achieve neutrality by 2060.

Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar dismissed the idea of ​​climate change as a driver of conflict.

Forest fires have ravaged many parts of the planet in recent years [Patrick Record/AP]

“ Tofu Nibblers Hugging Trees ”

However, warming global temperatures have been seen as inextricably linked to global security by most countries, including the UK, France and Germany.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged his fellow leaders to take immediate action on the climate crisis or deal with worsening global instability.

“Whether you like it or not, it’s a question of when, and not if, your country and your people will face the security impacts of climate change,” Johnson said.

“I know there are people in the world who will say that this is… green stuff from a bunch of tofu nibblers hugging trees and unsuitable for international diplomacy and international politics.” I couldn’t disagree more deeply.

Johnson highlighted the 16 million people displaced each year by weather disasters, some becoming easy prey for armed groups, farmers losing another wheat crop to drought and switching to opium poppy cultivation, and girls forced to drop out of school to fetch water fall prey to human traffickers. He also cited the effects of sea level change and forest fires.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta underlined the effect of climate and security on Africa, which he said “will unfortunately suffer from the worst consequences of climate change despite being the least responsible for greenhouse gases. global greenhouse ”.

He said the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, the drying up of the Lake Chad basin, shrinking Sahel grasslands and savannah “and worsening economic vulnerabilities have triggered political, demographic and that increase the threat of insurgency and violent extremism ”.

‘Last best hope’

The UK has in law pledged a target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and will host the COP26 climate summit in November in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Kerry called the Glasgow conference “literally our last best hope to get us on the right track and get it right”.

The United States is hosting its own summit on April 22, where it is expected to announce its renewed commitments to reduce carbon emissions after years of disengagement under Trump.

French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, called for “effective multilateralism” in the effort to limit warming, and expressed support for the German idea to appoint a UN special envoy for climate security. .

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also called on the UN Secretary General to report regularly on the implications of climate change for security.

Famous British broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough, in a video message aired ahead of the UNSC meeting, warned that “if we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of anything that brings us our safety, including food, water, inhabitable temperatures ”.

“We have left the stable and secure climatic period that gave birth to our civilization,” he said. “There is no going back.”

But Attenborough added: “If we act fast enough, we can reach a new stable state”, and the UN conference in November “could be our last opportunity to make this radical change”.

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