India calls for cautionary approach to link climate change

By: | Published: January 26, 2019 3:18 PM

Akbaruddin said while climate risks are evident in some specific cases, research findings on generalized linkages between climate disasters and security remain ambiguous.

Representative Image: Reuters

India has called for adopting a cautionary approach on linking climate change to security and giving the UN Security Council the right to take action to address it, saying overly militarised solutions to problems which require non-military responses bring the “wrong actors” to the table. A “mere decision of the Council” to takeover enforcement of climate change action would disrupt the 2105 Paris Agreement and multilateral efforts to find solutions, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council on Friday. He was speaking at the UN Security Council’s open debate on ‘Addressing the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security’.

“Climate Change is an unprecedented challenge to global civilisation,” he said. Akbaruddin said India believed that climate action should be a priority area for international cooperation.

“Global institutions should be responsive to felt human needs, including disaster preparedness, as well as resilience and response in the face of disasters. Such phenomena tend to threaten human well-being.

“Also, in some cases, such as rising sea levels, the integrity of States is at stake, even in the absence of violence and conflict,” he said.

Akbaruddin said while climate risks are evident in some specific cases, research findings on generalized linkages between climate disasters and security remain ambiguous. “The nexus between climate change and security is complex, contingent, and still contested. Hence, we as practitioners wanting to address such matters through international cooperation, face dilemmas,” he said.

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India has been critical of the Council’s efforts to extend its reach beyond what is allocated in the UN Charter by redefining other issues when it struggles to fulfil its primary functions. “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 asked.

“The contestation is about what manner, which aspects and which global governance mechanisms are best suited to tackle these phenomena,” he said. “Since international peace and security considerations often trump other considerations, defining a problem as a security challenge often upgrades attention and resources devoted to addressing it,” he said. He said thinking in security terms usually engenders overly militarised solutions to problems, which inherently require non-military responses to resolve.

“In short, it brings the wrong actors to the table. As the saying goes, ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail'” he said. He also asked if climate related disasters amenable to processes and solutions used to tackle threats to international peace and security.

India supports a path that promotes cooperation to achieve common goal of preventing and addressing serious disasters linked to climate change, he said. “To address such issues, we need to collaborate on climate actions, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” he added.

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