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UN Security Council takes up climate change risk for first time

Jessica Shankleman, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Wealthy nations will come under pressure to boost funding to tackle climate change during a United Nations discussion that will warn how unchecked rising temperatures could lead to wars and mass migration.

The U.N. Security Council’s virtual meeting Tuesday will be led by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and include participants such as French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief climate envoy, John Kerry. Attendees will focus on climate change risks.

Military experts have for years warned that climate change can cause political instability as it ravages crops, floods villages and cities and leads to a scramble for natural resources. With the U.K. holding the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, Johnson will warn that climate change poses a “grave threat to global peace and security.”

“Unlike many issues the council deals with, this is one we know exactly how to address,” Johnson will say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks released by his office. “By helping vulnerable countries adapt to climate change and cutting global emissions to net zero, we will protect not only the bountiful biodiversity of our planet, but its prosperity and security.”

The session will highlight the risk of failure by developed countries to deliver on the $100 billion a year of climate finance that they promised poorer nations at U.N. talks a decade ago. The latest data shows finance reached $78.9 billion in 2018, slowing after former President Donald Trump vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change accord. Much of the existing finance has gone to reducing emissions rather than helping vulnerable nations adapt to the worst effects of climate change.

 

After years of minimal contributions, the U.S. would need to pay around $8 billion to make up for lost time, according to Alden Meyer, a senior associate at the E3G think tank.

Meanwhile in the U.K., Johnson has promised to ring-fence international climate finance, spending 11.6 billion pounds ($16.3 billion) over the next five years. Yet he’s facing criticism from members of his own Conservative Party for cutting the overall overseas aid budget. Next month, the U.K. government will host a separate summit that seeks to ramp up climate finance from donor countries. The Climate and Development Ministerial will take place March 31.

“Investment in efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change can build peace and social cohesion,” said Kat Kramer, climate policy lead at the charity Christian Aid.

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