UN John Kerry likens climate inaction to a global ‘suicide pact’

United States climate envoy John Kerry warned on Tuesday that global warming is making the world a more dangerous place and poses risks to peace and security around the world.

Failing to face the threats of climate change is “marching towards what is almost equivalent to a mutual suicide pact,” said Kerry at a session of the United Nations Security Council attended by presidents and prime ministers from several countries.

“We bury our heads in the sand at our own risk,” he continued. “It is urgent to treat the climate crisis as the urgent threat to security that it is.”

Climate change has been around the Security Council for over a decade, but Tuesday’s meeting was notable for its stark contrast to the past four years, when the United States, under the presidency of Donald J. Trump, tried to block even general mentions of climate science in United Nations procedures.

“Climatic disturbances are an amplifier and multiplier of the crisis,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Council.

Mr. Kerry noted the “unforgivable absence” of the United States’ climate leadership over the past four years. As president, Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement, the global agreement created to limit greenhouse gas emissions. President Biden began the reinstatement process as soon as he took office.

The Security Council has the power to impose sanctions and authorize peacekeeping missions on countries, which is why countries discuss what they should and should not address.

Kerry’s comments were part of a diplomatic dispute that broke out between powerful countries over whether climate change should be discussed in the world body, which was designed to combat war and peace.

Russia, India and China – all among the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions – argued that climate change could be addressed in other ways. New global fault lines began to emerge.

India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar dismissed the idea of ​​climate change as a factor of conflict. China’s climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, framed climate change as a development issue. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily A. Nebenzia, philosophized about rising temperatures. “Are they really the roots of these conflicts?” he asked.

The session did not lead to anything concrete. But the fact that it happened, and the participation of several presidents and prime ministers, sent a signal that climate change is becoming increasingly important among member states of the United Nations, especially with the United States. “The Biden team’s emphasis on global warming has changed the incentive structure in the Council, and I think many states will signal the issue this year,” said Richard Gowan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Of the 21 countries where the United Nations currently deploys peacekeepers, 10 are classified as those most exposed to climate change, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent research group.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country serves as the rotating Security Council president this month, opened the session by saying: “I know there are people around the world who will say that all of this is kind of a green thing from a bunch of tofu eaters who hug trees and are unsuitable for international diplomacy and international politics. “He added:” I couldn’t disagree more deeply. “

Britain is hosting the next United Nations climate negotiations, to be held in Glasgow in November.