Islands win symbolic climate victory

Small Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels have won a symbolic victory at the United Nations with the passage of a resolution recognising climate change as a possible threat to security, Reuters reported. The General Assembly’s approval of the resolution – the first to explicitly link climate change and security – may help to push the issue onto the Security Council’s agenda.

The resolution, approved by consensus after months of bargaining, said the 192-member assembly was “deeply concerned that the adverse impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, could have possible security implications”. It invited all relevant UN bodies to intensify efforts to address climate change. Further, it asked secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to submit a report on possible security implications.

While largely symbolic, General Assembly resolutions can carry moral weight. Several UN representatives said the climate one was important as the first to explicitly link climate change to security. In the past, Security Council members, including China and Russia, have questioned whether the issue belonged in the council, which deals with threats to international peace and security.

“We are of the firm view that the adverse impacts of climate change have very real implications for international peace and security,” said ambassador Marlene Moses of Nauru, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, which introduced the resolution. The islands already were experiencing the “dire and immediate impacts” of climate change, she said, including the inundation of coastal areas, the submergence of islands, loss of freshwater supplies, flooding, drought, damaged crops and increased disease.

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